Originally created 04/26/06

Civil War wasn't always about slavery

What was the real cause of the "War of the Rebellion" in 1861? There had always been some degree of argument over slavery. It was one of many disagreements between the two regions. The foremost problem was in the area of tariffs, which the South paid far more than its share in 1860. By then, 80 percent of all tariffs came from Southern exports.

Less than 5 percent of Northerners were abolitionists. There were far more copperheads, or Southern supporters. While President Lincoln was anti-slavery, he was not a true abolitionist. When he took office in March 1861, he clearly stated his one objective was to save the Union. ... By July 1861, Congress passed a resolution that the war was not over slavery. Lincoln hoped the states would re-enter with no changes made at all.

After 17 months into the war, he realized the benefits of declaring emancipation. He did so half-heartedly. The border states, and nonrebelling areas of Tennessee and Louisiana, were not included. Union officers who owned slaves were omitted from it. Lincoln's reason: strictly for military purposes.

At this point, the war became one over slavery. ... This would give Lincoln full support of all blacks, North and South. This move would bring him eventual victory, and turn the tide of the war.

From the South's perspective, the war was still for independence. No letter has ever been found in which a Southern soldier states his mission was to protect slavery. Over the four years, the South lost a quarter-million of their finest. Of course, the North suffered equally.

Our great-great-grandparents died in war, or survived 12 years of pillage in reconstruction. This is why many of us celebrate Confederate Memorial Day - simply to honor those in this historical conflict that so shaped our nation. ...

To the victors go the spoils. Interpre-tation of history is one of those spoils.

Dr. Robert L. Gordon, North Augusta, S.C.

(Editor's note: Georgia and South Carolina have declared Confederate Memorial Day as April 27 and May 10, respectively.)


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