Secession Sesquicentennial - Say that three times fast
150 years ago tomorrow, the State of South Carolina announced their intentions to secede from the Union, struck up the band, and started marching towards what would become known as the Civil War, and ultimately 600,000 of their fellow Americans would die trying to rectify their folly.
And South Carolina did so to preserve the institution of Slavery, and for no other reason. Certainly there was been friction between North and South on more issues than this, but none of those rose to the level of Casus belli.
So yes, you can argue "and"
As in: "South Carolina seceded because of slavery and (give your reason)"
The same way you can state: "The Titanic struck an iceberg and the conversation at the captain's dinner table was a bit tedious earlier that evening"
Yes, other things happened. But they did not matter.
Now, we live in a time of revisionist heresies being easier than ever to propagate. We have a media that is not only seemingly incapable of discerning truth from lie, but actually has no financial motivation to do so. The truth is boring. You get low audience ratings when you just speak historical truths. Go check the ratings when someone like C-Span actually has a recognized historical expert on for 90 minutes speaking plain facts. It is fascinating, educational, and all twelve of us watching are enthralled. But give the lie a studio seat and a microphone, and watch the ratings climb. And the greater and more outrageous the lie, the more spittle that hits the microphone, the louder the cash register rings.
The media derives its' very financial sustenance from that spittle covered microphone. It does not matter how outlandish, factually challenged, or just plan bat-shit wrong one side is, they simply say that these are "two opposing viewpoints" and sit back like they are King Shit of Fair & Balanced Mountain. And a lie is still half way around the world while the truth is still putting its' shoes on.
Which means secessionist revisionists and apologists are going to have a ball. You will hear them trumpet "States Rights", and "Northern Tariffs", and the description of "Free, Sovereign, and Independent States" in the Declaration of Independence and that old crowd pleaser..."Slavery was on its' way out anyways".
But we know this is all just sand thrown in the umpire's eyes. What were the reasons for secession? The Preservation of Slavery...and pretty much fuck-all else.
How do we know that? South Carolina told us, clearly, simply, and with no other possible explanation to be gleaned from their words.
Now, say what you want about the darkness in men's hearts that would lead them to support an institution as evil as slavery, that evil does not render them mute or inarticulate or ignorant of American History.
They were all familiar with the Declaration of Independence. They cite the hell out of that Document, well, at least the bits of it they think supports their evil ends, and they were also aware and proud that its' author was a Son of the South.
"...a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation..." American Declaration of Independence, 1776
So South Carolina followed suit. They declared the causes for secession in a Document the Legislature Authorized on 12/24/1860
Now I like the handy .pdf format, since it makes word searches so easy.
Let's try "Tariff", because it is such a revisionist favorite...whoops, nothing for "tariff" found.
Let's try "Taxes"...always a good starting point for rebellion. Except it is only listed as justification for owning slaves
"...The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor...." - South Carolina Declaration of Immediate Causes
How about "property" or "Property Rights"...real crowd pleasers for throwing off the yoke of an oppressive Government.
Hmmm...well, it is mentioned three times, so it is certainly more fertile ground than "taxes" as a cause of disharmony, but the only time property is mentioned is as it relates to owning another human being.
"...The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights..." - Ibid
"...Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery..." - Ibid
"...whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes..." - Ibid
Damn. OK, what about "slave", "slavery", or "slaveholding"? How many times are these words mentioned?
Eight-fucking-teen, mate. And it is a short five page Document
And Jesus Christ, they don't waste any time saying who they are and what they represent. The very first reference:
"...The people of the State of South Carolina...in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States..." - Ibid
I mean, fuuuuck. They just jumped up on the pecan barrel and told the whole world who they were and how they defined themselves: As a slave-holding state.
Not a "State Rights" state. Not a "low taxation" state. Not even as a "we hate northern bankers" state.
"Say it once, say it loud: We're slave-holders and we're proud"
You see, they knew who they were. Slaveholders. They knew what they were rebelling against. The threat that they would not be slaveholders in the future. And they didn't bother to mince words and act coy about it.
And all the revisionist clap-trap we are about to get pelted with by apologists for secession will not change the remarkably clear words South Carolina used to make their case 150 years ago: That secession was first, last, and always a revolt against the Union to preserve and maintain the institution of slavery in the South.
To argue otherwise is to argue that words have no meaning.
PS - Oh, there is more. Wait until we get to the enlightened tome that Mississippi crafted. Here is a peek.
"...Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun..." - Mississippi Declaration of Causes of Secession
Jefferson Davis had a hand in crafting the Mississippi document. The same Jeff Davis who's ideas and speeches the Texas School Board thinks should be given a more prominent role next to Lincoln's
PPS - The waters do get murkier after Fort Sumter. Then we actually get a fair discussion of whether states like Virginia were motivated exclusively by wishing to preserve slavery, or also by a strong argument that secession was the only choice once called upon to carry arms against a fellow Southern State, which they would never do.
The States that seceded after Sumter (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina) may make a case for that complexity in their ultimate decision to secede.
The states that seceded pre-Sumter, (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas) can make no claim but the one whose flag they rallied to: Preservation of slavery.