Friday, March 4, 2011

The Charleston Mercury Defends the Fight for 1865

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I run across people all the time who try to convince me that the Confederacy was not established to preserve the institution of slavery. Of course I think that is nonsense - so I figured that from time to time I would a post tidbit of primary evidence to illustrate exactly how slavery was the driving force behind secession and war.

So here is a succinct, straight to the point newspaper article. Now I know that one article does not prove an argument. So stay tuned - I will give you lots and lots. This article  from an 1865 edition of the Charleston Mercury - the day is unknown but it seems like the CSA is very close to the end - is a good place to start. Sorry, no picture of the actual article - so I posted and old page of the Mercury from 1861.

Pay special attention. The author notes slavery explicitly as the cause of the war and the reason to maintain the fight...despite the severe losses endured by the South. Further, alluding to the proposition that blacks be enlisted to fight for the Confederacy, the Mercury takes a firm stand against arming black people. It would only lead to emancipation, notes the author - thus rendering their secession pointless.

I have quoted the article below in full (in italics). Please note that when I quote primary evidence I leave the language, grammar, and spelling exactly as written. I do NOT sanitize for your protection. Therefore, some of you may be offended by the choice of words. Rest assured, these are the words of the AUTHOR OF THE MERCURY, not mine.

In 1860 South Carolina seceded alone from the old union of States. Her people, in Convention assembled, invited the slaveholding States (none others) of the old Union to join her in erecting a separate Government of Slave States, for the protection of their common interests. All of the slave states, with the exception of Maryland and Kentucky, responded to her invitation. The Southern Confederacy of slave States was formed.

It was on account of encroachments upon the institution of slavery by the sectional majority of the old Union, that South Carolina seceded from that Union. It is not at this late day, after the loss of thirty thousand of her best and bravest men in battle, that she will suffer it to be bartered away; or ground between the upper and nether mill stones, by the madness of Congress, or the counsels of shallow men elsewhere.

By the compact we made with Virginia and the other States of this Confederacy, South Carolina will stand to the bitter end of destruction. By that compact she intends to stand or to fall. Neither Congress, nor certain makeshift men in Virginia, can force upon her their mad schemes of weakness and surrender. She stands upon her institutions—and there she will fall in their defence. We want no Confederate Government without our institutions. And we will have none. Sink or swim, live or die, we stand by them, and are fighting for them this day. That is the ground of our fight—it is well that all should understand it at once. Thousands and tens of thousands of the bravest men, and the best blood of this State, fighting in the ranks, have left their bones whitening on the bleak hills of Virginia in this cause. We are fighting for our system of civilization—not for buncomb, or for Jeff Davis. We intend to fight for that, or nothing. We expect Virginia to stand beside us in that fight, as of old, as we have stood beside her in this war up to this time. But such talk coming from such a source is destructive to the cause. Let it cease at once, in God’s name, and in behalf of our common cause! It is paralizing to every man here to hear it. It throws a pall over the hearts of the soldiers from this State to hear it. The soldiers of South Carolina will not fight beside a nigger’ to talk of emancipation is to disband our army. We are free men, and we chose to fight for ourselves—we want no slaves to fight for us.... Hack at the root of the Confederacy—our institutions—our civilization—and you kill the cause as dead as a boiled crab.

So....there you go. Not enough, you say? Stick around - there is much much much more to come.




  1. I find Civil War-era newspapers full of fascinating statements that openly contradict what neo-Confederates today claim for what their ancestors fought. My sample cited below comes from the a newspaper from the other Charleston, in western Virginia. The Kanawha Valley Star was a Democratic, pro-secession and pro-slavery paper that ran from 1855 to 1861. Its editor had to abandon the paper that year when he served in the Confederate 22nd Virginia. However, the strong Unionism - three to one against secession in Kanawha County - and the Whiggish inclinations of the area, mitigated its appeal. Nonetheless, it shows how secessionists appealed to fears of racial subordination.

    Kanawha Valley Star, April 23 1861.

    "The Northern cities, in keeping with their usual fanaticism, are perfectly furious; any one who refuses to advocate coercion is in danger of losing his life. Federal soldiers are flocking into Washington city by thousands; negroes are in the ranks with white men. Civil war is commenced, and it behooves every man who loves his species now calmly to consider how it can be stopped. We have heretofore urged with all our little might, that prompt, decided and unanimous action by all the border slave States was the only possible means of preventing bloodshed and civil strife. For that, many men denounced us as traitors."

  2. You are right but you miss the real-deal.

    From 1858-1861, Southern newspapers are filled with hate and threats that slavery must be SPREAD. We have stupidly "split the difference" and try to say the South was protecting slavery -- oh no no no. No no no. They were violently trying to SPREAD slavery.

    See the Five ULtimatums -- issued in Montgomery March 21 of 1861,and reported in headlines in newspapers North and South. Richmond newspapers headlines read "THE TRUE ISSUE".

    All five of the Ultimatums were about the SPREAD of slavery --- by force. That was the true issue. These Ultimatums even went further than that! The NORTH must spread slavery for the South. Go read them, they are goofy as you can get.

    The Five Ultimatums did away with any pretense of state's rights - they specifically said the territories (they meant Kansas) must "accept and respect slavery. The US Congress must force slavery into Kansas! The state legislature of Kansas must enact pro slavery legislation.

    What is even more whack than that -- the South had already seceded. These were not war ultimatums to stay in the Union. They had already seceded! These were war demands. Literally. Either spread slavery for us -- in the territories (Kansas) or we attack, is the basic demand.

    And when LIncoln refused to obey these insane demands -- the South did attack.

    We have let this point go for some reason.

    Nor was this just the rantings of some fools in Montgomery, some drunken braggado, some hubris. This is what the South had been demanding for over 40 y ears! These were the demands in 1820 and 1850, that lead to the "compromises" -- those were compromises like 7-11 armed robberies are compromises.

    Only here - the Southern demands were so goofy -- the North must spread slavery for us -- that LIncoln literally could not possibly do it. This would be like HItler issuing ultimatums that England must invade Poland for the amusement of the Germans. It is THAT goofy.

    Really, no Ultimatum in history, that I know of, even comes close to the goofy demands of the Souther Ultimatums.

    But it wasn't just this ultimatum. Toombs had screamed to adoring crowds "EXPAND OR PERISH" He meant, expand perish. The governor of Florida said clealy in official documents that just stopping the spread of slavery was "like burning us to death slowly" because of the hyper abundance of slaves..

    The Civil War started because the South was hell bent for leather to spread slavery. And they said so, over, and over, and over and over. From the rooftops, from the pulpit, from their official declarations and ultimatums, from their newspapers and headlines -- the spread of slavery.

    Every US history textbook should have two things in it, about the Civil War. One - -the Southern Ultimatums to spread slavery against the will of the people and states. Two -- Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

    Nothing shows so perfectly the difference between Lincoln, and the Southern leaders.

    Notice - what the South screamed from their rooftops, what they made headlines and ultimatums and threats about -- they dare not even mention now. At the time, this was their headlines -- their pride, their joy, their goals -- to spread slavery.

    But now - they dare not mention what they bragged about at the time.

  3. Funny thing, how real Confederates were unaware of black Confederate soldiers.

  4. Interesting stuff.

    Regarding the Mercury I just found an article in the Covington (Ky) Journal of March 9, 1861 that includes the following statement taken from the Mobile Register

    "No man who has more than the merest superficial knowledge of current politics, or who does not deliberately intend to misled will quote the Charleston Mercury as the leader or even the organ of the prevailing sentiment of South Carolina, much less the Cotton States at large."

    It continues on with another paragraph griping about its Charleston counterpart. (That paragraph may be more interesting than the one I quoted - it certainly uses more aggressive language.)

    Of course, that is one writer's opinion (or maybe 2 since it was reprinted) and it apparently is from a different time period than the story posted here, so it may have little (or no) significance on any credibility that paper had, but I found it interesting to see such a perspective, especially at a time when the Confederacy was trying to present an image of unity.

    Here's a link to the edition containing this story. It is in the 4th column, not far down the page.

  5. yes indeed - imagine that..

  6. Thanks for posting, Richard. I am always eager to check out further evidence of this type.

  7. Thanks for posting Mark - worry not, I am well aware of southern slave owners desires to spread slavery west, south or anywhere they found it viable. But - and I feel my concentration on it it is not stupid at all - the primary focus of the southern press of the late 1850s and 1860 was to alert the southern populace of what they perceived to be on the horizon - a Republican attempt to eradicate slavery. During the war they similarly felt it necessary to remind southerners that that was what the secession and independence was all about.

  8. Thanks for that Scott - I agree. The idea of any degree of racial mixing, much less subordination struck fear in to the hearts of southern white people. This quote illustrates that very well.

  9. And Southerner George Fitzhugh took the expansion of slavery one step further, arguing in Cannibals All!
    Or, Slaves Without Masters (1857, that slaves are the happiest, freest and most well off people in the world, that slavery is thus an ideal way of life, that white slavery is not wrong and that perhaps some form of slavery should be expanded to cover "the very weak, poor, and ignorant, &c., among the whites” rather than let them be subject to greedy capitalists.