With a background as a history major, it’s frustrating to hear Civil War and Confederate flag apologists say that slavery was not the root cause of the Civil War. “It was about state’s rights,” they say.
They are wrong. It was about slavery. What was the state right they were fighting for? Slavery, of course.
Don’t believe me? Then go read the official Mississippi justification for secession here: Reason for Secession.
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery–the greatest material interest in the world.”
It goes on to list Mississippi’s complaints about the Union threat to slavery.
Then, near the end:
“We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.”
$4 billion in slaves in Mississippi in 1861? That’s a lot of money. So maybe it wasn’t fought over slavery after all. Maybe boiled down all the way, the war was fought over money.
Ironically, the Confederate flag is now mostly defended by the kind of rednecks who couldn’t have afforded slaves, but would have been on the front lines of the infantry fighting to save the Man’s wealth.
It’s also ironic that the South’s wealth was destroyed more by Union armies in the war than freeing the slaves. Once Reconstruction ended in 1877, things basically returned to how they were in the slavery era. “Free” Southern blacks had to labor on the plantations for room and board.
John Barry’s book Rising Tide, about the 1927 flood, talks about one of the main efforts of the whites in power during the flood was to prevent the black labor class from leaving the Delta.
Things worked out ok for the wealthy Mississippi landowners who led the State into Secession. Not so much for the slaves and their descendants for the next 100-plus years.
Of course, don’t tell this to the Civil War apologists and flag supporters. They like their romantic narrative a lot better.