For those of you who may not have thought about it yesterday, not only was it Easter, it was also the anniversary of the first shot fired in the only “civil war” in the history of the United States of America. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate States of America attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina after the command at the federally occupied facility refused to hand the fort over to the newly established Confederate government. Since so much about The War Between the States (aka Civil War) is misreported, misunderstood, and twisted more and more each year in American society, I figured it would be a grand opportunity to list some facts that most Americans were not taught in Government schools.
This war should have never been called a “civil” war. A civil war is when two different groups are fighting for control of the same government. In this case, the southern states simply seceded from the Union of states, leaving the former government intact. Since terms like “The War for Southern Independence” and “The War of Northern Aggression” are sure to attract looks of perplexity, I figure that “The War Between the States” is sufficiently accurate and acceptable.
When President Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4th, 1861, he repeated these words that he had previously spoken several times in other speeches; “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” It is public record folks…go find it. (As a side note, this was also the same year that Congress passed the very first federal income tax in the history of our nation so they could finance The War Between the States…….way to go Abe!!!)
In June 1861, despite their acceptance of slavery, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri did not join the Confederacy and remained in the Union….along with their slaves.
On January 27th, 1862, Lincoln ordered an aggressive attack on the Confederacy. General McClellan ignored the order. He was removed from command 2 months later.
Over the next year was The Battle of Shiloh, Union occupation of New Orleans, battles at Yorktown and Williamsburg, Stonewall Jackson’s victory in Shenandoah Valley, The Battle of Seven Pines, The Seven Days’ Battles, battles at Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, and Fredericksburg (just to hit some high points).
On January 1st, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
What, you say?? President Lincoln freed the slaves a full year and nine months after the first shot was fired in The War Between the States??? Well, that just doesn’t make sense because The War Between the States was about slavery, right? But, why didn’t Lincoln free the slaves when he took office? Oh yeah, I almost forgot; he stated then that he had no intention to interfere with the “institution of slavery” (geez, he even recognized it as an “institution” rather than an immoral act). Could it be that “Honest Abe” wasn’t so honest after all? I mean, he didn’t have a beef with the four slave states that belonged to the Union. Hey, let’s not forget that he didn’t free ALL slaves anyway. The Emancipation Proclamation only declared that all slaves in areas still in the rebellion were, in the eyes of the federal government, free. In fact, earlier in 1861, Congress had passed an act stating that all slaves employed against the Union were to be considered free. In 1862, another act stated that all slaves of men who supported the Confederacy were to be considered free.
Here’s the deal folks. Slavery is arguably the most ghastly and embarrassing part of the history of a country that lays claim to a remarkable track record of human rights. Of course, the Federal Government’s extermination of hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of Native Americans could come close, right? Nothing says “I’m Sorry” like casinos, duty free liquor and cigarettes. Unfortunately, the Union states did not give a rip about slavery until Lincoln determined it was how the Federal Government would end the rebellion. He freed the slaves in the South and created a war of morality that would be remembered in the history books as such. He was a smart man; you have to hand it to him. One is left to wonder how he really felt about slavery despite many of his published memoirs. All of these years later, he is considered to be a pillar of human rights. And yet, he really doesn’t deserve the title.