George Washington appointed a highly qualified man to be the United States attorney to Pennsylvania in 1791. That man was William Rawle, L.L.D, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin. Washington also encouraged him to author a text on the United States Constitution that could be used for education. Rawle’s work, A View of the Constitution was published in 1825 and was used as a text book at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point until 1860. His text affirms that secession is both legal and constitutional. Southern leaders were merely exercising their rights as they believed existed.
Modern historians (so called), receive accolades and financial compensation for the promotion of history that proclaims “Saving the Union” and “Freeing the Slaves”. Recently, the very old notion that the South was traitorous has emerged from their works. Some refer to “The Myth of the Lost Cause” as if a fairy tale. That myth was never a myth. The Lost Cause was the cause of limited constitutional government and the rule of law providing equal justice; as evidence, I should like to quote those directly involved:
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America had this to say: “The truth remains intact and incontrovertible, that the existence of African servitude was in no wise the cause of the conflict, but only an incident…to whatever extent the question of slavery may have been an occasion, it was far from being the cause…[and] when the cause was lost, whose cause was it? Not that of the South only, but the cause of constitutional government, of the supremacy of law…”
Raphael Semmes, Commander of the CSS Alabama, understood what most Southerners comprehended and he stated it precisely when he wrote, “If we succeed in preserving the principle of State sovereignty – the only principle which can save this whole country, North and South, from utter wreck and ruin – all will be well, whatever the combinations of particular States being made, from time to time. The States being free, Liberty will be saved…But if this principle be overthrown, if the mad idea be carried out, that all the American people must be molded into a common mass, and form one consolidated government, under the rule of a majority – for no constitution will restrain them – constitutional Liberty will disappear, and no man can predict the future – except in so far, that it is impossible for the Puritan, and the Cavalier to live together in peace.” At this point, if you are historically challenged, you may wish to substitute blue State and red State for the comparison.
John Brown Gordon, Major General in Confederate Service, Senator from Georgia and Georgia Governor stated, “No. We did not want war and we did not inaugurate it. All we asked was to be let alone. But the North, which had become more populous and powerful than the South, determined to preserve her commercial interests, hence the war.”
Jubal A. Early, Graduate of West Point, Lawyer and Confederate Major General observed, “The people of the United States will find that under the pretense of saving the life of the Nation and upholding the old flag, they have surrendered their own liberties into the hands of that worst of all tyrants, a body of senseless fanatics.”
Beverly Tucker Lacy, Stonewall Jackson’s Chaplain and Chaplain to the 2ndCorps, ANV wrote, “This may be the last struggle for constitutional liberty which will be made on this continent.”
Hunter Holmes McGuire, Medical Doctor, Stonewall Jackson’s Surgeon, President of the American Medical Association and founder of the Medical College of Virginia said, “How horrible is war, but what can we do? These people of the North without any warrant of law, have invaded our country, stolen our property, insulted our defenseless women, hung and imprisoned our helpless old men, behaved in many cases like an organized band of cut throats and robbers. What can we do?”
Finally, General Robert E. Lee remarked, “All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government as originally organized, should be administered in truth and purity.”
The Southern States made every effort to peacefully form a government as their forefathers had done. The resultant ruthless invasion and bloody conquest clearly evidences their cause was lost but truth crushed to the ground is still truth and as the Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “Lies require the force of government, truth can stand on its own.” Apparently the Northern fanatics ignored The Declaration of Independence which states, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them…That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute a new Government. Southern people believed those words. The South did not inaugurate war against the North nor did the South desire to conquer Washington.
To those delusional folks who claim the South was treasonous for having fired the first shot, allow me to inform. A well-known axiom of war is that the aggressor is not the one to fire the first shot, but the one who requires the first shot to be fired. The 16th President after his election and before his inauguration plotted with military and government officials to goad the South into firing the first shot either at Fort Sumter, South Carolina or Fort Pickens, Florida. The flotilla destined to instigate interference at Fort Pickens was scattered by a hurricane, thus Fort Sumter became the default location. Once a first shot was fired, Rebellion could be claimed and uninformed folk could be rallied to save the Flag.
Treason according to Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution says, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them…” The “them” in question are the Sovereign States engaged in the compact. This is why Salmon P. Chase, former Secretary of the Treasury then Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, advised his former Cabinet colleagues to not prosecute the President of the Confederacy as evidence admitted to a court of law would find the North guilty of Treason.
Naturally, alternative rationales needed fabricated. Surprisingly, according to progressive President Woodrow Wilson, “It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war waged against states fighting for their independence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery…and the world, it might be hoped, would see it as a moral war, not a political; and the sympathy of nations would begin to run for the North, not for the South.”
A great body of evidence indicates that Yankee politicians became enamored with the luxury and power provided by pilfering the public treasury. As their numbers grew in congress it became ever more difficult for Southern statesmen to prevent. Southern people were tired of providing over 80% of the Federal revenue and having over 80% of it spent in Northern states. How can it be that after an elected public servant gains office he becomes a multi-millionaire? We witness today the extravagant wasteful expenditures of the Federal government knowing it as just another precedent set by the 16thPresident’s administration.