Slavery in the Permanent Confederate Constitution

On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted a permanent constitution for their new nation to supersede the provisional constitutional they had hastily adopted a little over a month before. Civil War Emancipation has already dealt with the latter document as it pertained to slavery. Today, it will deal with the permanent constitution on the same issue.

Like the provisional constitution, it was largely based on the U.S. Constitution, but with significant differences. As Stephanie McCurry writes in yesterday’s Disunion in the New York Times, “They purged the text of all of the ambivalences, compromises and hedges about slavery, representation and the power of the federal government that had plagued the republic since the founding.” Also, like the provision constitution, the permanent Confederate Constitution dealt with slavery directly, not obliquely and by implication as in the U.S. Constitution. Clearly, the Confederate States of America was to be a slaveholders’ republic and felt no need to fudge that fact in its highest law.

The permanent Confederate Constitution also added to the provisions dealing with slavery in the provisional document.  In addition to the sections in the provisional constitution on fugitive slaves (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3) and the ban on the foreign importation of slaves except from the United States (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 and 2), four new clauses in the permanent Confederate Constitution dealt with peculiar institution.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 dealt with the taxation and enumeration of slaves, interestingly retaining the three-fifths clause from the U.S. Constitution. “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Confederacy, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 made slaves a sancrosanct type of property within the Confederacy, with special protection under law. “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 guaranteed the right of slaveholders to freely transit and stay with their slaves unmolested within any state of the Confederacy. “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 3 established that in any new territories gained by Confederacy, slaveholders would enjoy the same property rights to their slaves as in the existing states. “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

Clearly, slavery was a more important part of the permanent Confederate Constitution than in the U.S. Constitution. It constitutes one of the most significant differences between the two documents. And slavery would not have been such an important part of the permanent Confederate constitution had slavery not been the raison d’etre for the founding of what amounted to a slaveholders’ republic.

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About Donald R. Shaffer

Donald R. Shaffer is the author of _After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans_ (Kansas, 2004), which won the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship in 2005. More recently he published (with Elizabeth Regosin), _Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files_ (2008). Dr. Shaffer teaches online exclusively (i.e., a virtual professor). He lives in Arizona and can be contacted at donald_shaffer@yahoo.com
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51 Responses to Slavery in the Permanent Confederate Constitution

  1. Jefferson Davis says:

    I believe that the most disturbing thing about all that has or ever will be said about the war between the states and or the civil war is and forever under the blue sky will be all convoluted and described as the way only the victor can describe it; in their best light. The whole process of crying over spilt milk is so childish, but the matter of the fact is that the whole idea of slaver was never the intent of Mr. Lincoln to abbolish. It was to leave his mark on this ever evolving government what ever that would be. How meglomanical does one have to be to actually start a war over a small matter that could have been fixed by just paying the plantation oweners with the Millions and millions of dollars spent on the war to move towards another way of bringing thier crops to market; no, his intention was to be grandios about it, leave his name as forever remembered far into history, he most certainly has done that! But there are those of us who know the real story of the matter… NO ONE here is ever going to say enslaving another human being is a good or ever a somewhat good thing. The matter is the Country was only 84 years old… But most of the people who were here had been here since 1612 that is 240 years. And come on everyone, does anyone actually believe it was ok to free the black people but continue to STEAL the homes and land from the indians… The war was about expansion and the ability to continue to steal the land of the native people, if this is not the case what was Custer doing at little big horn???!!! He was there because the indians were promised food and provisions that they never received and they were starving, and just plain simply had enough of the U.S. Gubment lying to thier faces, making deals with no intention of ever following through with the deal. The sad part is I will bet that most if not all who read this will believe I’m a negro hatin’ southerner, not so, I live in Mn and have an MBA, graduated at the top of my class, and see most humans as just that, human. The actual matter is before ever having an opinion on the “SMOKE” that has been blown up your culo for 150 years now, go figure out what the south was really fighting for, the main fight for them was not slavery that was only a run off of the larger picture. Read about state rights and what the south knew Mr. Lincolns real reasons were for going to WAR. If the Union was SOOOOOO right! why is that most of the real papers in the North, ‘Chicago times’ most New York papers did not want lincoln around, most lobbied to not have him re-elected in 1864… Oh don’t get me started on the Wisconsin papers that hated him, in fact the only paper that like him was the Washington post, and they had their problems with his as well. No other president from Washington to the currant has ever had such a LOW approval for the election of president. Hey go look up history and see that the State I live in was added to the Union in 1858, so guess what, all the people in Mn now got to vote. If you knew how Mn was added you would see the intention as clear as the nose on your face. Remember the election was 1860???!!!! Hmmm I bet you’re now starting to ask some questions, aren’t you! To be honest, none of this matters at all. The world is in serious trouble, once Japan’s economy completely collapses the rest of the industrial world will have its hands full of a mess, a serious one!

    • Hi Jeff. Many thanks for your extensive comment. The documents speak for themselves, the war was about slavery. If you aren’t convinced read the secession justifications–slavery is by far the major topic and protecting slavery is clearly the reason these states tried to leave the Union.

      • Jefferson Davis says:

        My point is made by your comment. What you believe is what you have been told and what you “believe” to have read that is the TOTAL truth. The research of the last 20 years is my speaking, can you say the same?! The war was not about slavery alone, if it was Mr. Lincoln had more than enough money to buy off the plantation owners, just as they had enough money to buy off the banks in the last two years. I guess my mother may have been right after all, ignorance is total bliss for those who believe in being ignorant. The only reason most have no choice but to believe the ‘right’ side won is because your psychological being could not handle the truth; now that you would have to come to undestand that you have been an idiot and made a fool of for most of how ever long you’ve been an adult. And Oh no, this the greatest Country was built on a lie, no way that could not be the case. When you become learned in history let me know. There has been many many societies that have ended slavery without pitting brother against brother for the sake of ones own glory. I promise you the war was not about freeing the ‘darkies’, as they were called then. Here is a little exersize for you! If you find out your neighbor is having an affair with his 18 year old step daughter when he is 50, do you find it repulsive and realize it’s none of your business or do you go over there and try and kick his ass becasue he is just wrong and it is not of the moral compass you have. You see that is one of the reasons this Country is almost done in the world, they have alwasy stuck their nose where it don’t belong when it didn’t belong. This Country pretends they are the moral compass of the world… At the time of the War the states had a right to break off of the other states if they so chose… But Mr. Lincoln could not have that. That would have created another Country inside the “LAND” that he intended to have what was called then as; now pay attention, “Manifest Destiny” People like you believe you can have 23 pieces of a 100 piece puzzle and know what the picture is. You like to believe you have a right to choose for yourself as a fundamental right, the states also had that right…. Oh and before I forget, did you know it was worse on the slaves in the south up until the 1970… Do you know what equal but seperate laws were in the south?! oh and they were on the books until 1954. Hey do you know what corpral punishment is?! Do you live in a state that allows the School to HIT your child, more than half the States in this country allow it. Why don’t we go to war over that?! I don’t know I can’t think of anything that would make me want to break someones neck more than someone hitting my daughter… The point is War is never an option, when it is something that has other options. Oh and Mn is not one of the states that allows that. If it was I would just leave, yea, leave like the C.S.A. tried to do. IT WAS THERE RIGHT.

      • Hi Jeff. Read the primary documents, which I have been analyzing in this blog since January when I started it up. Slavery is the dominant cause by far. Not the only cause, but the 800-lbs-gorilla of Civil War causes. Plus the other causes either alone or in sum wouldn’t have been sufficient to cause secession. Without slavery there is no Civil War.

    • Arnold Stang says:

      Jefferson Davis, and Robert E Lee were traitors to the united states of america. Their attempt to engage in a violent overthrow of the federal government was high treason and both men deserved the gallows. Why this was never done, only god can understand and forgive.

      • Hi Arnold. You are correct about Davis and Lee. The reason they were not prosecuted is that the emphasis after the war was on sectional reconciliation instead of retribution. Millions in the South had also committed treason and there was a fear that prosecuting their leaders might lead to violence and possibly a resumption of a bloody and costly civil war. Jefferson Davis was arrested and imprisoned for two years before being released on bail, but never put on trial. So freedom and no retribution for Confederate leaders was in essence part of the price of peace.

      • R Alexander Wooddell says:

        You are not correct Arnold. Both President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E Lee were not citizens of the United States of America after their respective States dissolved their union with the United States of America. Therefore they could not be traitor and the false charge of treason is wrong. The reason they were not tried is because if they had been the United States of America and the United States would have been proved to be at fault. You do not know what you speak of.

      • Hello. Citizenship is in the eye of the beholder. By the perspective of the U.S. government, both Davis and Lee remained citizens of the United States despite secession, and were definitely subject to treason trials. That they were not prosecuted for treason after the war (although Davis was imprisoned for two years awaiting a trial that never came and then was released) was a political decision that national reconciliation was more important than holding either man accountable for treason, especially when millions of their fellow citizens were equally guilty of the same crime.

  2. Jefferson Davis says:

    Oh and before I forget…. One only tends to talk in the frame of what the Southern states reasons were…. No one ever takes a look at what the Northern states reason were…. Do you really actually believe that boys who were in their prime of chasing women and goofing off were interested in fighting for the rights of someone else, especially a people that most had NOTHING TO DO WITH…… God eveyone is so stupid…. The only reason the Army of the patomic even had an army was because Mr. Lincoln promised evey one of them $634 and land at the end of the war… But what no one knows was there was a clause in the agreement, the land was to come from any land in the south that was captured… Do you think the 16 to 45 year old boys/men would have signed up if they knew there was no recourse if the Union/Federals would have lost… The Union would have been bankrupt and Mr. Lincoln would not have had to live up to the deal. Most men in the union believed they would get land in the North; win lose or drew. The same deal made to the indians was the same deal made to the boys who signed up. It was ficticious. The South was fighting to Keep something that was theirs’ their way of life, and they would do something about slavery when they so chose to do so, but not on someone elses time, and someone elses time that had nothing to do with that way of life. The sad part of these blogs is that it is as though one reading this or any other knowlege of the facts is as though my information is the only one that has given real facts. I bet most believe Mary Surratt really had something to do with ‘Booth’! she did not! it was this Country’s way of telling everyone it now had control and if you mess with us we will try you in a military court were we can rig it to look like it was fair but you will in the end stretch a rope. Hey I have a question, Why is it that after WWII has there been no one from Europe coming over here, I promise the Italians have not come in over 70 years, the Greeks never did really come, the French have not been coming for just as long as the Italians, the Sweedish have stopped coming since the 60’s.. The only ones coming are the 3rd world’ers…. Wake up people.

    • William Johnson says:

      I believe you. Man I want your knowledge. If the civil war was really all about slavery, then why did it take so long for the tyrant Lincoln to come up with the emancipation proclamation? Nobody thinks anymore. When our founders rebelled, they were committing treason. England came and put there flag in the ground and laid claim. As far as i’m concerned, England still, and rightfully, owns the land they claimed. As for the land stolen from the Indians, it does not. The American form of government allowed the people to make the decisions. So if a state wanted to be free, they have the right. We are the United States of America, not the Captured States of America. Thank you.

      • Hi William. The war was about slavery. Believe or not, it is that simple. Many slaveholders in the South were convinced that slavery was in danger in the U.S. with a Republican president, and believed emancipation would lead to a race war as had occurred in the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s. If you don’t believe me, believe them. Read the justifications for secession they wrote when they left the Union. Read Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech.

        As for Lincoln, he held back on emancipation, first, because he believed caution on the issue would assist Southern Unionists in returning the seceded states to the Union. He also favored a gradual, compensated emancipation, because Lincoln too feared the violence and social disruption that he believed immediate emancipation would bring. Lincoln eventually embraced the immediate emancipation because he came to recognize the military value of slavery to the South and that Union could not be preserved without ending slavery as soon as possible.

        Finally, it is easy to say states should be able to secede if they’re unhappy. I’m not dismissing the idea out of hand, but read sometime Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman’s arguments against. They both argue secession is an invitation to anarchy because in a democracy it becomes a tempting option for a minority that does not want to live under the laws created by the majority. The problem is if you allow secession, where does it stop? New minorities are created in rump states who are tempted to do the same until government and order fall apart. I’m not saying it would always happen, but Sherman and Lincoln had a legitimate concern here.

        Don Shaffer

      • Robert says:

        The North did not fight exclusively “to end slavery”. True enough. The South however, most certainly did fight to preserve and expand it. If there were other reasons, those learn’ed men of the Old South did a piss poor job of sharing what they were. Take this gem for example:

        http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

        The careful reader will notice that “tariffs”, the Lost Causers’ raison du jour, is never mentioned. While “states” ( always preceeded by “United”) and “rights” both appear, “states rights” does not.

        Revisionists, like J D above, spin the bully federal government leanin’ on the South yarn. In their view, Northern politicos all but stole that Southern moonlight and taxed their sweet ol’ magnolias. In other words, they play the victim card.

        Read more primary sources like the one above and you’ll learn the truth from the men who poured the gas and lit the match: the South started and fought the war to preserve and expand slavery.

  3. David says:

    what you “believe” to have read that is the TOTAL truth

    My favorite part of the comment. Because it’s not that you’ve actually read it, it’s only that you’ve _believed_ to have read it.

  4. Jefferson Davis says:

    Slavery was the excuse… I agree that slavery had something to do with it. But it was not the main reason. If you think the only PROBLEM the South had with the North you would be sadley mistaken. The other problems were the South wanted to expand the land of the South in their way, does anyone know how hard it is on the land to grow cotton? it takes up to 3 years for the ground to recover from one years worth of cotton. The sad part is the bigger gorilla in the room will never be known by the school children who are taught Mr. Lincoln was a saint, and should be seated at the right hand of God. The sad part is slavery was the excuse to stop STATE RIGHTS and continue to allow the states to act sovereign… If Mr. Lincoln was so high and might why did he only try and free the slaves in the south where he had no power, but were he did have power he did not. The worst part is that when you look at the time line, Mr. Lincoln freed the slaves on Jan 1st 1863—- that is almost two years after the war started. He did it becasue he knew if he did the black men would come over to the North where MEN were needed. The North kept getting their rears kicked by the South all through 1862…. Fredricksburg… Chancelorsville, just to name a few. No, Donald! the war really became about slavery when Mr. Lincoln realized the gift that was given when he was loosing the war, a small preponderace of the evidence that he could now pretend was his original intentions… Kind of like the guy who is showing off for the girl and he does the splits and cracks his ‘sack’ on the ground but pretends that was his original intention to do the splits, as if he really could. Donald it is disapointing to me to realize you probably have the best intentions and have for sure a good heart in life and maybe are a good father and husband or what ever you do in life. I appreciate that you have teken the time to actually read somthing other than somthing irrelevant, but one of the inherant problems with this conversations is I can prove all the things I’ve mentioned. It sounds to me as though you have just now discovered the Confederate documents… I read them 22 years ago, my thesis was on the Civil war in Collage, I started out as a History Major. I believe you are a good person, I do, just don’t have enough information just yet. If you can go down load the book… Mary Surratt: An American Tragedy. By Elizabeth Steger Trindal. The first 102 pages will shock you… Now remember she did more than 15 years of research before she wrote this book, all of her information has been confirmed by evidence…

    • Hi Jeff. The best sources in History are primary sources, from the time of the Civil War, which I have made the heart of my blog. They say that slavery is the BIG cause of the war, particularly the Confederate documents. Slaveholders feared their slaves, but were even more afraid of them becoming free, because they believed it would result in a bloody race war which only the continuation of slavery could forestall. Hence, when Lincoln and the Republican party won the 1860 election, slaveholders in the Lower South decided secession was the only way they could preserve slavery. The Upper South was on the fence, until Lincoln’s call for the volunteers in the wake of the assault on Fort Sumter convinced Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas that Lincoln’s assurances of non-interference with slavery could not be trusted since he was willing to use military force to preserve the Union.

  5. Jefferson Davis says:

    I can see total ignorance is still prevalent… Lets clarify the English language and its reading for those of you with inteligence quotients below 130.

    “What you believe is what you have been told and what you “believe” to have read that is the TOTAL truth”

    Meaning you are like children! who only believe what they are told and never confirm anything because you’re too ignorant to want to know the truth, or just so brain washed that it is easier to hold onto the lies because if you were to find out somthing different than what you have believed you would have to kill yourselves due to the complete undestanding that you are a bug in the system of this country, and you are toyed with like a little bi-otch… Better to believe you are in control. Ignorance is bliss…. Why is it that 9 out of 10 movies made about the Civil war are from the view point of the Confederate Gov. How come one of the greatest movies of all time “Gone with the Wind” is about a story from the south during the civil war, and not a story from the lets say, New York, or Philadelphia, because no one has ever given a cr-p about the industrial world (the North) it was and is about the south, and all the wrong things that happend to a complete culture because of one mans meglomania. I can not change anyones mind here, I have no intention of such a thing. The only reason I even blog once in a while is to take the temp of the cattle in this Country. Hey stupid! go google Ruby Ridge, Waco, and actually read the whole thing… Then come back and make some more excuses for your ignorance. Hey idiot, you’re as free as a Canary in a cage, and it all started because of the Civil war. Hey idiot, if the south would have won, we may have had slavery for another 50 or so years, but we would have there would have been no Depression of the late 20’s and all of the 30’s ( this country caused that ) the country would not have been so big to cause such a problem. Japan would have never bombed Pearl harbor. Becasue this country would not have so big it thought it could push around other countries by cutting off their supplies. There would have been two countries, North America and The Cnofederate states of America. Hey look at it this way, all of us living in the north would not have to be putting up with all the “border crossers” from Mexico. The craziest thing you will never get is that I know anyone on here who disarees with me on any of this is from the North, because 95 out of 100 southerners do not, unless you are from African liniage.

    Walter Langer wrote… If you tell a lie enough and often enough it soon enough becomes the truth.

    Adlai Stevenson: Once said… It is easier to fight for principles; than to live up to them.

    Please go get a real education before you intend to engage this type of conversation.

  6. Jefferson Davis says:

    The only reason for the Civil war was to NOT allow another seperate Country to come into existance…

  7. Jefferson Davis says:

    Donald do you actually believe that the Confederate gov was worried about a race war with the black man, when it took them all of two to three weeks to have a malitia of over 50,000 and over 200,000 in the next 6 months… I do not know how you would ever come to believe that the south was worried about some black men getting out of control… Come on now!! And Donald it was not “preserving slavery” that the lower south was after. It was the preservation of its citizens rights so afforded by the Constitution… Please tell me you have read and know something about the original constitution and its content. Wow… Washinton was a slave holder, so was Jefferson. Right wrong or indifferent; there is no difference of this scenario than what happened leading up to the civil war… How would it fair if all of sudden everyone in the north was told they could no longer ride snowmobiles,, or snowmachines ( depending where you’re from) because the governer of Texas thinks they are stupid… No, better yet, there is no more ice skating because Barrack is a black man and thinks it is stupid, one can only play basketball.. Do you not understand that is how the south saw it. They saw something that was their way of life being assulted and messed with, somthing that the constitution said was oky dokie. Hey we have something like this going on now, have you been paying attention to the health care bill, have you been watching what is/has happened in Wis. How about the Arizona problem with the profiling of the Mexicans crossing the border. It was then as it is now, the gubment interfearing in the frivate lives of the citizens. Slavery was wrong for THIS TIME. But back then it was not, it was a way of life, for more than just a few it was a complete region. Just like you believe one way or the other of the health care bill… Doesn’t matter what side you’re on now, in the long run it is just a device for the gubment to test us on what we will put up with… It is a bad thing in the long run. Just like freeing the slaves the way they were was a bad thing…. So, one more question… Would you rather want a woman to want to love you, or would you prefer to force her to love you. Wouldn’t it have been better for the government to want to free the slaves than to have been forced. This is the kind of wisdom I’m talking about here people… The plain simple truth is the uneducated mexicans coming into this county are causing a heap of trouble, I bet I can get you to agree to that! but freeing the slaves was letting loose all uneducated african people on one nation. Gee I wonder is that why the seperate but equale rule was the normal events until 1954. See it took another almost 90 years for the africans to try to fit into a society that was not thiers, not theirs, not by chioce, but none the less not theirs. It was an evil thing to have Nathan Bedford Forrest be a slave trader, but we are looking at it from out point of view in this time, back then it was not the case. It was terrible to have a family split up the way they were… But lets look back in our time machine. The africans in Africa were starving, there food source was nill, still is, if a back woman had a child in Africa she had a 78% chance of her child dying. In America she had a 54% chance of her child dying…. You see Donald the part you are not told is that alot of black people volunteered to come to america in servtitude to have a better life than the one they had in Africa. Donald get the whole picture before you believe a blog of this magnitude will not find a person like me. I have complete knowlege of this country from the revolutionary war up to the war of 1812 to the mexican american war, to the war of the blackhawks with the United states in illinois, the missouri compromise and the whole shoot’n match. You do not know enough to pretend to have what seems to be the opinion that you do. The Point is: neither was right, and neither was wrong, it is how it was done that made the Union Wrong.

    • Ret Marine says:

      @ Jefferson Davis…you have “complete knowlege of this country…?” that statement in itself belies your arrogance…and sadly your ignorance.

  8. Henry Matarozzi says:

    Jefferson Davis, maybe you should proofread your posts before accusing others of being ignorant. They are full of non-sequiters and spelling errors.

  9. Paul Taulbee says:

    If slavery was so benevloent why did we have Fugitive Slave Laws? Why did those happy content slaves flock to that old racist William T. Sherman as he led his horde of burning Yankees into the heart of the South in 1864? Was Frederick Douglas just a fabricator in his biography?

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  11. Kim Trenton says:

    I’m really glad to find this blog because I am sick of hearing people like “Jefferson Davis” pretend that the war was not about slavery. All you have to do is read the articles of secession and the Confederate Constitution. The other thing you often hear is talk of how few people in the North really cared so deeply about freeing the slaves. This is, of course, true: abolition was not the North’s primary objective. One thing that I think needs to be pointed out clearly to all the revisionists is that yes, the war was about slavery, but it was NOT about ending slavery; rather it was about preserving it. It was not the North and Lincoln that started the war. It was the South, and they started it explicitly because they wanted to preserve the “peculiar institution.”

    Thank you for bringing the primary source documents to more people and trying to combat the current revisionist nonsense with actual, printed evidence. Not that the crazies can be convinced, but at least it might keep more (relatively sane) people from believing the BS.

  12. Robert W. says:

    The most damning evidence against this Lost Cause claptrap is laid out in Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech.” It’s a full throated celebration of slavery.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1861stephens.asp

    “…but not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other-though last, not least: the new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among 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.
    …Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone 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 moral condition.”

    • Hi Robert. An excellent point. This blog has dealt with the Cornerstone Speech: http://cwemancipation.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/alexander-h-stephens-cornerstone-speec/

      Don Shaffer

    • Tanner says:

      Just because some of the political elite in the day were pro-slavery doesn’t mean it was the South’s sole reason for secession or the North’s primary goal in engaging in civil war. Other men, such as Lee, opposed the institution, so your point is null and void.

      • Jelsh says:

        General Lee believed so strongly against the institution of slavery that he commanded an army fighting to protect it!

        Nice try, Tanner

      • R Alex says:

        Im afraid that you don’t know our history. The War of Northern Aggression could have ended and slavery secured under the US Constitution for another 20 years or more give or take a few if the Confederacy had just laid down their arms and re-entered the Union. That fact alone rips your point to shreds like knife through warm butter. The quart of States would have kept slavery longer in the Union than it wouldve lasted on our own. You try to set so self righteously under the American flag which flew the longest over that evil institution while calling our ancestors evil and you vilify our Confederate Heroes, belittling the causes of separation and Yankee agressionism and warmongering hordeism to one cause and liberalism equal to none as a glorious March to heaven. We still remember New Manchester. We still remember Reconstruction and subjugation. We will never forget and we will teach the truth to our children. Your piety is meaningless in the face of historical fact and the truth. Am I emotional about it? Yes! Learn the facts.

      • Hi Alex. The Confederate states seceded because they wished to keep nearly 4 million fellow human beings as slaves in perpetuity, overworked, underfed, and subject to abuse and separation from family. White Southerners had no intention of freeing their slaves–ever. Indeed, they feared the result of a general emancipation would be a bloody race war, in which their slaves would take vengeance on them. Lincoln tried enact gradual compensated emancipation in the loyal slave states (Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri) in the first half of 1862 and was turned down flat. Slaveholders there too wanted to keep their slaves in perpetuity. That was an important reason that Lincoln embraced the Emancipation Proclamation. He realized the union could not be preserved unless slavery was destroyed. And it was destroyed at the cost of 620,000 to 750,000 lives and the devastation of swaths of the American South. To the freed slaves credit, they didn’t rise up in vengeance, but tried to build peaceful lives for themselves, the vast majority in the southern states, which was their home. Which they through their toil had helped to build and where generations of their ancestors were buried. All they wanted was to be treated the same as everyone else. Instead, they were set upon by an angry, sullen, and fearful white population who crushed the noble, if sometimes poorly implemented experiment in biracial democracy known as Reconstruction through acts of ruthless violence, and largely abandoned by a federal government which had lacked deep enthusiasm for Reconstruction to begin with and believed the abandonment was the price of sectional peace. Fortunately, things have improved in that regard, especially since World War II, and the tired hatred you represent in increasingly marginalized in the early 21st century. It is sad that people such as yourself, for whatever reason, cling to myths about a system that neither should celebrated nor remembered fondly because it institutionalized the theft of human lives and was willing to sacrifice countless lives to preserve what can only be described as a crime against humanity.

      • R Alex says:

        What is sad is that you are telling the truth. I don’t hate other races. You have just proved my point. Just tell the truth. Lincoln was a tyrant and a liar. Grant and Sherman were war criminals. The Yankee North as opposed to the civilised Noth was cruel, criminal, and forked tongued, and could not and cannot be trusted. You know full well that love for my country is not equal to hate for black people. But it fits your narrative and feeble minded individuals usually believe lies when they are told them enough. If the US had stayed in their own country then we would have worked out our own problems, legally and morally.

      • Hi Alex. I will not engage in personal attacks, even implicit ones. Hold on to your beliefs if you wish. But they go against the balance of good historical evidence and they demean the millions of slaves that suffered and died building the American South. It is a good thing the Confederacy lasted but four years and horrible that nearly a million men had to die or suffer wounds physical and psychological to strangle it in its cradle and end the scourge of American slavery. Or that decades of further violence and institutionalized racism followed. Or that its echoes continue resound across the internet.

  13. dana says:

    There’s a reason why he takes the moniker Jefferson Davis. Much like the real one he wants to try his best to make the cause of the south seem noble in some way, thus his inclusion of the north as perpetrators. To be sure, the civil war itself was fought over secession, but secession was a direct product of southern fear that the new Republican president would take their “property”. So slavery begat succession, succession begat the war. We’d have not had the war if states didn’t attempt.to leave the union, and we’d have not had them make those attempts if they weren’t trying to cling to their “rights” to own human beings

    • Nikkiru says:

      I think it needs to be said that the “states’ rights” claim is hypocritical ay best. The articles of secession are rife with complaints about the supposed failure of some northern states to comply with the Fugitive Slave Act promptly enough for their liking.

      Had they really been so principled about states’ rights, wouldn’t they recognize the right of other states not to . participate in the human bondage which their laws and constitutions abhor? Were these these sates not demanding that Federal power be brought to bear against other states, to override those states’ laws and constitutions? In what way is this consistent with a belief in the sovereignty of the states?

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  15. General Lee says:

    The sad fact is we are still agruing about this to this day. I you have read the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, it does indeed say that the Federal, and i repeat Federal, government is forbidden to make a law abolishing slavery, but the key is in what is not written there. The state governments could ban slavery as it is not prohibited by the constitution. The constitution also states that if you change states your slaves would remain your property. Now think about that. Why would they include that clause is in fact all states had slavery and agreed it was moral? This would then prove that the Confederates thought ahead, and that some states my abolish it if they wished to. Remember the Confederacy only existed a few years, do you really think they would have keep it if all the new industrial technology proved a better method? In fact the Union can easily be blamed as the cause for the South still have slavery as their Prized Federal Government had no interest in helping the South Industrialize and prove to it that slavery was in fact an outdated poor method for production.
    The other sad fact is that many still consider Gen. Robert E. Lee a traitor. He is actually one of America’s greatest heros and patriots. The South had every right to succeed as did the United States from The British Empire, if you say the Confederacy had no right you might as well shoot yourself in the foot and move to U.K.( if so, may i suggest St. Helena? It has lovely weather this time of year). On top of that Lee owned no slaves and thought slavery was immoral. So why did he fight for the Confederacy? Because he had patriotism, national pride, and morals. I should note nationalism is pride in ones country NOT Government. After being offered a lead of the Union army he simply turned it down and wondered what happened to his country he had bravely fought for in the Mexican-American War. It was now invading itself and breaking the very morals it was founded on ( much like today). Lee had to have a lot of grit and discipline to turn down the offer, even after he was bribed with fame and glory. He could not fight his family and brothers, and proved he was not going to make discission based on the general oppion but on his own conscience unlike many people today. At Appomatox he surrendered even though his men said they could fight on, but Lee knew it would cost too many lives on both sides and accepted Grant’s offer. Generously saying his men could simply return home with respect, family heirlooms and their sidearms. After the war Lee helped ease tention between the North and South throughout Reconstruction.

    • Hello. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • kbrown2225 says:

      Please save the “deification” of Robert E. Lee, lord knows the purveyors of the “Lost Cause” and historians like Douglas Southall Freeman have given us too much of that “herofication” nonsense in the last 150 years.

      I would recommend you read “The Marble Man” by Thomas Connelly and “Lee Considered” by Alan Nolan as a starting point for a more realistic assessment of Lee and his place in history.

      By the way, while Lee technically “owned no slaves,” there were no less than 63 slaves at his home in Arlington (so you see his family owned plenty of slaves) and while Lee “bemoaned” slavery as “evil” he also firmly believed that it was the proper role for black people.

      As Lee stated, as late as 1865, “Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races whole intermingled as at present in this country, I would deprecate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both”

      Letter to Hunter Lee, “Lee Considered,” Alan Nolan (1991), 21.

      It was only AFTER the war that Lee claimed he had “always” been in favor of emancipation.

      Additionally, at Appomattox there were brave generals like James Longstreet, who were willing to continue the fight (“General, if he [Grant] does not give us good terms, come back and let us fight it out”) it does not change the fact that the Army of Northern Virginia was outnumbered five to one and completely surrounded. Lee’s army was disintergrating from desertion and defeat was inevitable

      Longstreet to Lee, http://www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/James_Longstreet)

      While Lee was an able and talented tactician, he pursued a strategy of offensive operations that bled the Army of Northern Virginia to death. In the first three months of his command in 1862 he lost 50,000 men. The manpower drain that resulted from Lee’s generalship was inconsistent with both the Confederacy’s defensive strategy and the realities of the South’s manpower shortages.

      Thomas L. Connelly, “Robert E. Lee and the Western Confederacy: A Criticism of Lee’s Strategic Ability,” Civil War History 15, no. 2 (June 1969): 118, America: History and Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed July 6, 2012).

      The over the top “herofication” of Robert E. Lee can no longer accepted by legitimate historians. While Lee was certainly a decent man and very talented tactician, it was only after his death in 1870, that Lee was transformed from an admired general and individual and “metaphorically resurrected into a Christlike figure of perfection and the embodiment of the Lost Cause as envisioned by his former comrades.”

      Peter S. Carmichael, “Truth is Mighty and Will Eventually Prevail: Political Correctness, Neo-Confederates, and Robert E. Lee,” Southern Cultures 17, no. 3: 9, America: History and Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed July 5, 2012).

      No, we must accept a more realistic and historically accurate portrayal of Lee, and put the “Lost Cause” propaganda to rest.

      • To: kbrown2225, Black slavery was a smoke screen to hide the real cause for secession and the following unconstitutional union invasion of the south in 1860. Southerners experienced growing federal tyranny with no end in sight. The feds had been violating the US Constitution on a continual basis such as export taxes for years. The Confederacy seceded not just from the Union but from the tyranny. The “UNION” attacked the Confederacy without a declairation of war or constitutional reason which are violations of the US Constitution. To the world it looked bad. The emancipation proclimation was produced as a smoke screen to cover federal tyranny. And it worked wonderfully. Look at the “UNION” and slavery today. Is slavery ended in the US? No. An example is “foreign aid” where Twenty billion dollars/year of our hard earned dollars go to foreign princes making us their slaves. Marxism and communism [public school, Obama care; unconstitutional money, etc, etc,] has spread all over the nation making everyone somebody”s slave. The law in the US has become the great fiction by everybody tries to make a living off of everyone else. Union borders are wide open. The Union did not end slavery in the US in 1865. It made slavery universal. The South was right. Wake up America.

      • kbrown2225 says:

        I am sorry Edward Hensler, I am a legitmate historian, so I don’t do “crazy.”

  16. What good is a union that must be held together at gunpoint?

    • Hi Edward. I agree with Lincoln (see his first inaugural) and Sherman (see his Sept. 1864 letter to Atlanta’s leaders) on this point. Secession is an invitation to anarchy because it sets a precedent that an aggrieved minority simply can leave the nation rather than seek to settle its grievances peacefully through the political system. If that is to be allowed where does it end? Also, if liberating nearly four million human beings cruelly enslaved had to be done at gun point, I’d say it was one of the best uses of firearms in the history of this country and perhaps in human history.

      Thanks for your contribution.

      Don

      • Tanner says:

        Reading the States documents regarding secession makes it clear that slavery was a key issue in the American Civil War. The debate here from this Virginian is simply that it was not the sole reason the war was fought. I may even concede that without slavery, there is no war, and it is better that the Union won in hind sight. However, the Northern population outnumbered the South by a considerable margin, the politics of the day were dictated by region and the South was being reduced to essentially virtual representation. Also, the economic policies were extremely favorable to Northern industrial interests, hurting the poor white Southen farmer, not just the plantation owner, why else fight considering the vast majority of the soldiers had no slaves? President Lincoln never mentioned the abolition of slavery in his 1860 run and the Emancipation Proclamation did not take place till after the war was half way over, it was strictly a political move to disuade British or French involvement as the blockade was key in the Anaconda Plan. Was slavery part of the Southern way of life? Sure, but the North had slaves too. Finally, the Treaty of Paris which granted us independence from Great Britain did not give freedom to a unified nation, but rather a string of 13 which freely joined the Union and as free people they can freely leave. I invite you to look at the modern United Kingdom, they are made up of four sovereign states, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The parliaments of each could hold a referendum and leave, but they don’t. Why? Same reasons the Confederacy wouldn’t have split, unity of many things and the common good. Also, Virginia was the first state in the Union to attempt to abolish slavery, and it failed by only one vote.

    • Robert W says:

      What good is it? After 226 yrs, good enough to be what the rest of the world hopes for.

  17. Mel Kilberg says:

    Jefferson Davis
    The South started the civil war with the first cannon fire on Fort Sumter. They expected Lincoln to react militarily and thereby bring the big 7 into the war , Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, and Maryland , and Kansas. Well, they got 4 out of 7. The Confederacy with 7 states could never have taken any additional territory. There whole intention was to turn North America into a slave-holding empire. With the price of cotton and tobacco and cheap labor the slave holders would have become extremely rich.

    They never had good intentions and they treated their slaves brutally. There was no Christian love in their hearts only intense greed. Nothing good can be said about the Confederacy except that they were beaten. Once and for all freedom and equality was extended to all men as the Declaration of Independence stated.

    If they had won, there would be generations of border wars between them and the USA. It took the lives of about 400,000 US soldiers under the flag of the Stars and Stripes to defeat them.

    Let us not dishonor their graves by saying their cause was wrong and and the Confederacy was legitimate. May God have mercy on the souls of those who fought for the Confederacy because they did not understand what they were doing except fighting for their homeland. I’m sure many of their souls are in heaven and are at peace with their US brothers.

    The war for the Confederacy was inevitable and thankfully it ended brutal slavery forever and brought forth a new birth of freedom like Lincoln said. You are greatly deceived Mr. Davis, you have not learned the lessons from our past and hopefully you will have the courage and wisdom to recant. Lincoln was the greatest president this country ever had and ever will have

    Mel Kilberg North Carolina,

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  19. Bob Villa says:

    ……e Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman’s arguments against. They both argue secession is an invitation to anarchy because in a democracy it becomes a tempting option for a minority that does not want to live under the laws created by the majority. ”

    I think you might be confused, we are a republic, with democratically elected representatives.

    A republic and a democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a republic the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a democracy the sovereignty is in the group. This is fundamental to protecting the rights of individuals who may be in the minority when concerning political or social affiliation.

    • Hi. Thanks for your contribution about the technical distinction between a republic and a democracy. I am merely describing the positions of Lincoln and Sherman here. Both believed the secession to be an invitation to anarchy in a democratic republic. Certainly, I was not trying to claim the U.S. is a pure democracy, nor were Lincoln or Sherman. But thanks again for reminding me of the distinction.

      Don S.

  20. Ginger Davis says:

    After reading the lengthy posts from Jefferson Davis, l am beginning to believe in reincarnation. What a pompous windbag. Jeff obviously believes anything written AFTER the war rather than what was written before the secession of South Carolina and anything written by secessionists. Hey Jeff give me the quote the father of your first wife made about slavery, the Constitution & swords. You seem to like quotes. Who said, & l may be paraphrasing ” you are entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts” ?

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