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States Rights??? ... Not quite....

The Civil War.

It keeps coming up in my mind since January 6.

The confederate flag was flown in the Capitol for the first time every on January 6.

People have consistently defended the confederate flag as a symbol of a more noble and genteel time.

I have heard people state the Civil War was about states rights and the ability of the states to self govern. About the reach of the Federal Government.

In high school books said the Civil Ware was about states rights.

In college I met people they parodied the same notion. That it wasn’t really about slavery.


That’s kind of like saying a Taylor Swift song is about a date. Totally misses the point.

The Civil War was about state’s rights TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO OWN SLAVES.

There are people who refuse to believe that.

But it just takes a little reading

If we go directly to the articles of secession for the various states we also find slavery as the main cause:


“She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time”

South Carolina:

“But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution”


“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”


“The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery”


“The people of Virginia, … having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States”

Let’s go next to the Constitution of the Confederate States:

“In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.” Article IV Section 3

Detractors will point to Article I Section 9 of the document which states:

“Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy”

This article merely reaffirms the 1808 international agreement to eliminate the international slave trade that the United States made with European powers after significant diplomatic pressure from England.

While that sounds great, do note it does not make slavery illegal, merely the importation of slaves from foreign countries. It actually gave existing plantation owners more power as they had no international competitors for the supply of slaves.

The Civil War was about slavery. Period. Full stop.

To ignore this is to try and slide the sin of slavery under the rug of history.

As always I hope this helps. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

All the best,

Dave Terné

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Jul 15, 2021

Yeah, I've heard that argument that the civil war was about state rights far too many times. Usually by the same people that have a problem with states that allow gay marriage.

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