Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2016, April 13: Charles Sumner on the cause of the Civil War

Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was one of the leading critics of the Slave Power. One of his speeches, not popular in the slave states, was published under the name Barbarism of Slavery (1863). It was a Senate speech of June 4, 1860, in the summer before the election that made Abraham Lincoln President. In the wartime 1863 introduction, Sumner wrote:

It is now more than three years since I deemed it my duty to expose, in the Senate, the Barbarism of Slavery. This phrase, though common now, was new then. The speech was a strict and logical reply to the assumptions of Senators, asserting the "divine origin" of Slavery, its "ennobling" character, and that it was the "black marble keystone" of our national arch. Listening to these assumptions, which were of daily recurrence, I felt that they ought to be answered. ...

In that debate the issue was joined which is still pending in the Trial by Battle. The inordinate assumptions for Slavery naturally ripened in Rebellion and War. If Slavery were, in reality, all that it was said to be by its representatives, they must have failed in duty if they did not vindicate and advance it. Not easily could they see a thing so "divine" and so "ennobling" — constituting the "black marble keystone" of our national arch discredited by a popular vote, even if not yet doomed to sacrifice.

The election of Mr. Lincoln was a judgment against Slavery, and its representatives were aroused. [my emphasis]
Charles Sumner (1811-1874)

The reason for the war was very clear to Americans on both sides of the line:

Therefore, there are two apparent rudiments to this war. One is Slavery and the other is State Rights. But the latter is only a cover for the former. If Slavery were out of the way there would be no trouble from State

The war, then, is for Slaver}', and nothing else. It is an insane attempt to vindicate by arms the lordship which had been already asserted in debate. With mad-cap audacity it seeks to install this Barbarism as the truest Civilization. Slavery is declared to be the "corner-stone" of the new edifice. This is enough. ...

Such is the issue simply stated. On the one side are women and children on the auction-block; families rudely separated; human flesh lacerated and scarred by the bloody scourge; labor extorted without wages; and all this frightful, many-sided wrong is the declared foundation of a mock commonwealth. On the other side is the Union of our Fathers, with the image of "Liberty" on its coin and the sentiment of Liberty in its Constitution, now arrayed under a patriotic Government, which insists that no such mock Commonwealth, having such a declared foundation, shall be permitted on our territory, purchased with money and blood, to impair the unity of our jurisdiction and to insult the moral sense of mankind. [my emphasis in bold]

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