I am saddened but not surprised at the total lack of knowledge Americans have about their own history.
You need go no further than watching the misguided conflict currently ongoing regarding historical statues and monuments associated with the Civil War. After a century of misinformation and brain washing of our innocent school children, It is no wonder that the vast majority of Americans actually believe the Civil War was fought because of hateful slavery. WRONG! The Civil War was fought over state’s rights. Granted, slavery was a tenant of some southern states rights, but if the war was primarily fought because of slavery, there would have been no war. President Lincoln (the great emancipator) himself actually said he would rather have a whole Union with slavery that a divided Union without.
It is important to understand factually what was happening at the time. The southern captains of business were amassing tremendous wealth producing and exporting the most sought after commodities in Europe and America. Tobacco, cotton and sugar cane. Europeans were eager and thrilled to wear clothing made of soft cotton rather than the centuries old scratchy sheep’s wool alternative. Also there were over 20,000 tobacco shops in London alone and we all know the addictive nature of nicotine.
At the same time, the businessmen of the north were struggling with the fledgling industrial revolution and were jealous of the wealth the southerners were amassing. Specifically, they felt it was unfair that the southerners were using low cost slave labor to produce and export their products while in the north, businesses had to pay substantial wages for labor at their factories and businesses. Accordingly, the federal government in Washington began charging exorbitant tariffs and fees on the southern exports and doubling down on associated import monies.
The south finally tired of the unfair burden of tariffs and taxes for funding the Federal Government in Washington and focused on state’s rights to get Washington’s meddling and control of their finances out of the hands of greedy northern politicians. Unable to change things via legislative practices in Congress, the southerners saw no other way than to permanently separate themselves from the Union.
Thus began America’s War of Secession. It is incorrectly referred to by everyone as a civil war. A civil war is when factions rise up and want to overthrow and replace an existing government. The south had no desire to do such a thing. They simply wanted to separate from the union and govern themselves. Thus what is incorrectly referred to as a civil war was in actually a war of secession.
What about the slavery issue? You can see that slavery played a part in the issue of labor costs. However, the northerners were not challenging the moral issue of slavery or ones right to own slaves. Their focus was on financial profits and leveling the playing field between northern and southern producers.
Why then did Lincoln launch the Emancipation Proclamation? It is important to note that if the war was fought over slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation should have been the rallying cry and initiative that started the war. However, it is very significant to note that the Emancipation Proclamation was not issued by Lincoln until January 1, 1863— some twenty-three months AFTER the war had begun. Answer: The federal government had a powerful navy that had been blockading the Atlantic and Gulf coasts since the start of the conflict. They were successfully denying any southern exports to reach Europe. Thus the south was cut off from the critical financing they needed to prosecute the war. However, the Europeans desperately wanted their cotton and tobacco and the French in particular with their massive navy were ready to break the federal blockade to access southern goods. Lincoln got wind of the French intentions and knew he could not fight the south and France at the same time nor could he allow the southerners to gain access to the money they would receive from their exports. Knowing that the French themselves had recently outlawed slavery in their country, Lincoln speculated the French citizens would find it difficult to accept their country entering into the war on the side of the slave owners. The declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation sealed the issue of neutrality in the eyes of the French and proved to be one of the timeliest political moves in American history.
Keep in mind while the young men of the northern army who had never even seen a slave were fighting to preserve the union, soldiers of the south were also mainly just farm boys who never owned a slave and were fighting for state’s rights and independent sovereignty. In and of themselves, worthy causes in the eyes of both sides.
If you read a history book today, however, it will say that the war was started because the anti-slavery Abraham Lincoln was elected president and the south didn’t like that. If you believe a nineteen year old northern farm boy was willing to leave his wife and child and risk death to free some slave, or that a southern farm boy was willing to do the same to keep slaves he never had, then you are hopelessly lost along with the factual history historians have contorted and altered to support their agenda.
Tearing down statues and monument because of some twisted idea that they primarily represent hatred and slavery, is an example of stupidity and ignorance on parade. What’s next, going through southern grave yards and destroying confederate soldier’s markers and grave sites? I think a large portion of America has lost its mind. I, like the vast majority of Americans, believe slavery was and is deplorable. But using it as a wedge issue between our citizens to advance an agenda to keep America divided and sustain an environment of racial divide for political posturing and support, is also despicable.
Tune in next time and I will provide the historical facts as to why the war in Vietnam never had to be fought due to one of the biggest political blunders of the twentieth century. Lost in history.
~ Dennis Foggy