After my response on slavery and the two kingdoms to Michael Horton the other day, a kinist commenter took the liberty to blast my “commie propaganda from the latest fifth column Bolshevic” with a barrage of overly-defensive hate. Once he was—as is our policy—sent bouncing for his belligerence, he tagged me in a list of those presumably unanswerable objections from pro-South sympathizers, most of whom also seem by coincidence to be “kinists”—believers in various degrees of modern segregation.
After reading that list, I was utterly stunned at the level of self-assured vitriol and self-fueled, would-be-righteous indignation that can be built upon the emptiest and most threadbare of falsehoods. But since I continue to hear such comebacks (from people who have obviously neither read my book on the subject, nor any other that is more than reprinted “Lost Cause” mythologizing), I would like to provide an exhibition of what I am talking about. Sometimes, you just have to see it yourself.
First, before we go there, it is helpful to know that there are very good articles written, mostly by liberals, in this vein already—and despite what you may think about the sources, they are accurate. One of the good ones I’ve seen comes from Slate, and it addresses the following fictions:
“The Irish were slaves, too.”
“Black people enslaved each other in Africa, and black people worked with slave traders, so …”
“The first slave owner in America was black.”
“Slaves were better off than some poor people working in Northern or English factories. At least they were given food and a place to stay.”
“Only a small percentage of Southerners owned slaves.”
“The North benefited from slavery, too.” (A point equally emphasized in my book.)
“Black people fought for the Confederacy.”
This article is an excellent brief refutation for each of these points and how they are used by those hoping to exonerate the South. If you only had time to read one, this would be the best of this lot. But there are others worth reading (see the list at the bottom).
The nature of our critic’s arguments is little different: some standard fare, some emotional tirade, all mythical or irrelevant, and finally revealing the true racist colors at the end. Let’s review. . . .
The Slave Trade
1. Only Northerners engaged in the slave trafficking. Southerners were forbidden to do so in the colonial period under the King, and refrained from it after the revolution, when they combined to compel northern slave traders to desist all slave importation by 1809 as a condition of joining the union. (Yankee states negotiated to have that moved up to 1813).
This highly edited version of the history is a gratuitous half-truth I found very early in my work on R. L. Dabney, and heard it repeated by the confederate apologist-preacher who was subject of a previous article of ours. There was not a single southern ship involved in the slave trade! And we are forced by history to acknowledge the accuracy of this historical claim. It is true.
As if that were a full exoneration of the South and its peculiar institution! That’s kind of like arguing that, well, there’s not a single American shipping company involved in shipping cocaine. Therefore, Americans have nothing to do with drug trafficking! It’s all Latin America’s fault! We’re blameless.
We know, however, how a basic economy works: supply and supply lines cannot function without demand. Someone has to be paying for it to keep on going.
After reading Dabney claim Virginia never wanted slaves, fought against it the whole time, and never had anything to do with bringing them there, I was just a bit suspicious. The southern demand for slaves is featured in more than one place in my book. It turns out there is quite a bit of damning evidence against the southern states here: private letters from plantation owners begging for more slaves, government communiqué, subsidies for ships delivering slaves as early as the 1640s, other subsidy schemes, headrights, etc., all designed as great big green lights to those slave ships loaded with slaves to “KEEP COMING, PLEASE!”
In the end, the blame does not lie solely on the persons who held title to the ships or the companies, but also on those who kept purchasing the titles to the humans those ships stole and delivered captive, and those who kept begging for them to bring more.
And no, the southern states didn’t nobly try to end the trade under the Constitution. South Carolina allied in the Convention with a couple northern states—the ones profiting the most from the shipping—in order to keep it open as long as they could. The major holdout, Virginia, had no noble designs in her desire to close it: instead, her delegates were trying to close the transatlantic trade so she would have an early monopoly on the domestic trade she had already established and drive up prices. Yes, they were breeding and selling off slaves and didn’t like the international competition for the market.
The Emancipation Proclamation
2. Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclomation [sic] only affected the Southern states, not the Northern. Both Lincoln and nearly all Northerners were violently opposed to amalgamation of the races.
Files these under the classic objections that “the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t really free any slaves,” and “The North was just as racist as the South!”—two distinct points we’ve already discussed in our article on the things the old history books allegedly hid from us (but didn’t!). They’ve been known forever, and neither one negates the wickedness of the slave laws, slave trade, plans for a slave empire, and virulent racism in the South. Neither answers why slavery would only have ended by war or revolution in the South. Neither absolves the South of anything.
As I said at that time: “those truths were already openly told in the original establishment narratives, too. And yet those narratives all still concluded that the South’s insistence on slavery and its extension into the territories was the major issue and virtually sole cause of the war.” You can’t escape these facts no matter how bad Lincoln and the North were.
3. Huge numbers of Northerners sided with the South, (they were called “copperheads”) many even moving there to support its Christian cause.
Again, the “huge numbers” of “Copperheads” are no secret, nor do they prove anything specific. It’s not like anyone has ever argued the North was a monolithic anti-slavery society, or unanimously in support of war. People who place too much emphasis on them, however, tend to forget they were little more than the Democrat party presence throughout the northern States. Lincoln’s famous debate opponent, Stephen Douglas, was an Illinois Democrat, after all. President Franklin Pierce, the 14th, was a Vermont Democrat. No wonder they were mostly partisan against the Union and the war! That’s a no-brainer. There were all kinds of odd political bedfellows at the time: for example, there were Southerners who were pro-slavery and yet were strongly opposed to secession as well. Why? They thought their slavery was more secure under the Constitution and Union than outside of it.
One journal article puts it:
The Copperheads were not, as many people assume, Southern sympathizers. Some were. But most were not. Copperheads came to the movement generally from three different backgrounds. First were Southerners who had moved north, or whose families were Southern. Second were immigrants, especially Catholic Germans and Irish. They had no love for the Republican Party, which had absorbed the nationalists who had rallied against them in the 1840s and 1850s, and which also contained a number of temperance advocates whose crusades against alcohol targeted a centerpiece of both cultures. Third were conservative Jacksonian Democrats, the strict constructionists. It was their talk of constitutionalism that became the lingua franca for the entire movement.
These particular critics of Lincoln were, however, distinct in one respect: they were among the most virulent, outspoken racists among northerners:
The most fervent Copperhead criticism of the administration revolved around race. Copperheads were deeply racist, even by the standards of their own time. Their racial fears increased as slaves ran to Union lines in search of freedom. Laborers feared that freedmen would take their jobs. Others simply did not want African Americans anywhere near them. Whatever the case, Peace Democrats were convinced that abolitionists had brought on the war by stirring up so much trouble in the antebellum period. Under the Lincoln administration, abolitionists had far too much influence and were, claimed the Copperheads, running the government. (Never mind that Lincoln was a raging moderate who moved to the left only as the war forced his hand.) Tensions were so high in the summer of 1862 that race riots broke out in Toledo and New York.
So, yes, there was an active, anti-Civil War faction in the North. Big deal. There’s still a Democrat Party in Ohio today, too, and it’s always a close call in that state, isn’t it? No Republican ever got to the White House without winning that one. Sometimes Copperheads strike; sometimes they don’t. But they’re always lying right there in the woods. We don’t pretend they’re not there; we just wear thicker boots.
Racism and hate
4. Since the destruction of the Christian culture of the South (the real purpose of the war) populations have moved about so much and the Marxist brainwashing is so ubiquitous, that most Southerners are committed ethnomasochists and cannot flagilate themselves enough to satisfy themselves, let alone Marxist filth like you, and those who see the truth of what has happened are scattered quite evenly throughout the country, and the only reason you care to single them out os because of your irrational marxist brainwashed satanic ideology that wishes to slander and divide with your libels so you can think of yourself, in all your satanic pride and war against righteousness, as occupying the moral high ground.
I say it quite literally and not as some vulgarity…. your spirit betrays war against the scriptures and the almighty. Eternal hell is your destiny, except grace kindly awaken you from your rage against the truth.
I have to say, the incessant attribution to Marx of the single-handed power to brainwash the world and end slavery in America almost makes want to admire him . . . if it were true. Almost.
I jest, of course. In all seriousness, did you catch that handy phrase “ethnomasochist”? Yes, that is “one who loathes or hates their own ethnicity.” In other words, our critic and pro-confederate apologist bemoans the fact that, as he sees it, the vast majority of [white] southerners today loathe their whiteness, and therefore . . . what? . . .
If it were not already clear from the lament of losing a past America “opposed to amalgamation of the races,” here we have a man whose anti-marxism and alleged “Christian culture” presuppose that the true faithful must also be racists, and perhaps even white supremacists. At the very least, anti-miscegenation!
I can’t even “can’t even.”
Perhaps most telling is the suggestion that anyone who thinks otherwise about their race and the dear South must be “flagellating” themselves. When genuine and necessary repentance, or even just empathy, are considered anti-white self-flagellation, there may be a problem deeper than the lies you tell yourself. In the neoconfederate, pro-racist world, historical honesty is punishment, and repentance is physical torture.
Joe Salant asked me the other evening if I wanted to share some of my hate mail. Well, here’s a little taste of it. I would say that a good majority of the actual hard pushback on my southern history, slavery, and racism work ends up with some level of this racist language or these ideas in it, even if sometimes veiled a bit better. It’s quite saddening how many there seem to be, actually.
They’re almost as numerous and the myths they keep peddling.
Further articles to read: