(LibertySociety.com) – Most American schoolchildren are taught early on that the American Civil War was waged to set slaves free. But is that, in fact, actually the truth? The answer may surprise many people.
A Background Issue
In the decades leading up to the shots being fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina — traditionally considered the official start of the war — the disposition of slaves was at best a collateral concern. The main issues were states rights versus a centralized national government and, as often becomes a problem between human beings, money.
As the North became more industrialized, owners of companies got richer and just like we see today, they used that wealth to influence politicians. This resulted in the implementation of high tariffs on goods coming in from Europe, which meant the less prosperous southern states faced a major increase in what they paid for manufactured goods.
The issue regarding individual state sovereignty was not new to the mid-19th century, having been hotly debated at the constitutional conventions at the founding of the nation. The South firmly held that the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution meant what it said and any powers not given to the federal government in the document were theirs alone.
The history books used to teach schoolchildren refer to the president as “The Great Emancipator” but by looking at his own words, one can clearly see it was not a motivating factor until the halfway point of the war. Such as:
I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have no inclination to do so. — First inaugural address, March 4, 1861.
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I can save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it…” — Letter to Horace Greeley August 22, 1862.
By no means, does this imply Lincoln was a racist or pro-slavery. Many of his other speeches, papers, and correspondence proved he personally found the institution repugnant. It simply did not impact his political persona.
The Emancipation Proclamation
On January 1, 1863, the pronouncement was made that “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States…” When one takes a moment to parse out his words, it becomes eminently noticeable that they did not apply to the slave states of the Union, such as Missouri or Kentucky, plus several others.
Here lies the strongest evidence that the beginnings of the Civil War had very little, if anything, to do with slavery. Otherwise, he would’ve addressed those held as property in areas under his official jurisdiction.
This brings up the question as to why Lincoln failed to do so — because it was no oversight, but rather a blatant political ploy. His fear was those border states may have decided to join the Confederate States of America and the Union would be beyond saving.
The powers that be have continued to propagate the story that the War Between the States was fought strictly for the noble purposes of eradicating the blight of slavery from this country. However, digging deeper than what’s taught in schools shows history does not support this idea.
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