You maybe wondering why or how I came to the conclusions that I arrived at. That process took over 25 years. Back in 1962 I found out that I had a Confederate as a great great grandfather. I was given a copy of the only letter we had from him. I was living the 100th anniversity of the war and reading the shorter "Battle and Leaders" set. I had been told this war was started over slaves, and the south was fighting to keep them. As I read my gggfatrher's letter, I noted that he proabley didn't own a slave. So then the question arose, "Why was he fighting, so that Scarlet's dad can own a slave?" It then dawned on me that there must be more to the story then that, that was being told.
From time to time I would read a civil war book and like most of the country I admired Lincoln great a deal. I watched the TV shows from Disney,and others like, "The Gray Ghost", The Drummer Boy of Shiloh", "Yancy Daringer", and "Johnny Reb." Then all of a sudden, it was no more, it was wrong, it was bad! I knew that my gggfather didn't fight to keep something he didn't have, so I believed it wasn't about me and went on with my life, studing WWII, and Napoleanic Wars, The Romans, and Japan's Samurai History. I found that historians talked only about things that were written down. But just because it is in print doesn't make it so. Even this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, until you prove it to yourself.
The diaries from Mexicians on the Alamo is case in point. Many historians don't believe them. I found that most history is never really told, and that before a real understanding about an event becomes fully understood, it takes about 200 years. I started studying the war in 1980/81. And I haven't stopped yet. I also got my degree in History and Geography (two Majors) in 1997.
I started by reading all the standards, you know, Mr. Foote's 3 volumes, which I didn't finish the third, because I knew what was coming. (I have found others experince the same thing. It is seeing a train wreck and you just don't want to watch.) I started getting the "Civil War Times Magizine" (& others) and read everything else that I could get my hands on. The complete Time-Life Series on the war, Bios, diaries, journals, and with the net, more things like the small letter collections not published. I studied slavey and the slave trade. I read some of the most boreing political things you could read. Any thing published that I could find. I got the newspaper reprints and tried to read them, and that wasn't easy to do. I joiined one of the Civil War Roundtables and have met many of the people you see on the history channel talking about this war. It then hit me, what wasn't written. And I began to look for that in connection with that I was writen. What this or that person didn't say seemed to be just as important as what was said. NOWHERE DOES LINCOLN SAY THAT THE SOUTH IS FIGHTING FOR THEIR SLAVES AND WE NEED TO STOP THIS. There is not one southern song that said, "Hurrah, Hurrah, we fights for our slaves." No, they all say they are fighting for their rights. So I started looking at that as I continued to study the conflict. I checked the conventions on seccesion and found that the majority of the delegates were slaveowners in most of the meetings. I noted that nearly all of those in political office, were slave owners, ....rich, slave owners. I knew that there are few who are rich and many more who are not rich. No wonder most of the southern speech makers are talking about slavery, they were the slave owners! Again, the question came back, "Why, would anyone fight for something they didn't take part in or have little benefit from. Most of the people that fill this big group of the southern population left little in away of a record or though.
I had to discount someof the newspaper reporting due to the "yellow journalism" problem and the fact that most newspapers want to do one thing and that is to sell newspapers. So when newspapers gave so much press to certain topics they were selling newspapers. Just like today with Michael Jackson, Rodney King, and O.J., you need to ask yourself , "if it was an average white man or even hispanic, and the same things happened to them, would we be talking about it at all?" And if we make a base on what is put into the newspapers, then this country is nothing more then sex, drugs, and rock & roll. No one goes to church, or the PTA, or drives an SUV. That we all are poor good old boys that drink all day, drive drunk, kill each other in wrecks, and live in homes with meth labs next door. So I knew that we needed to discount most of the newspapers news storys. After all, the Washington Post and New York Times have had to return major awards because the story written was a pact of lies, on three occasion, in the last 25 years.
I studied social histories on the war like "The Vacant Chair" which points out that there was no love for the black man in many parts of the Union Armies. That in fact many in the North held the same view as many in the South when it came to race. And it was the same view usually held by those who were not around the blacks very often. I found that view even in people who were suppose to be so wonderful, like Lincoln. That "honest Abe" wasn't so honest, he was a politician, who mis-lead, and branded things into something they weren't. Like the tearm CIVIL WAR, which this wasn't. A civil war is when two groups of people are fighting for the control of the same government. Which I noticed that the South had one of their own. That when you find out that the state of Alabama writes a Declaration of Indepence, and the articiles of seccession have a lot of slave owner slave talk, but then there are the "OTHER" things they talk about that adds to the picture, that leads one to look at our government and try to figure out what went wrong with it to cause those who don't own slaves,( the majority of the people) to support the leaving of the Union.
I studied the abolishtionist movement and found that it started in the South, and wasn't until 1830 when they moved north do you get any real reaction on the issiue. I found that many in the North feared slavery due to the fact that if slavery came north they would lose their jobs in the factories they worked in. Even H. B. Stowe writes in Uncle Tom's Cabin , "That what we should do for these poor creatures is to give them an education, and send them back home to Africa" I essence the Black need to get learnin' and that they then needed to leave because she didn't want to live next to a Black. And even when they said they didn't like Black people they would add,..."their view wouldn't hold anyone back from his (Black's) rights." But what if the former slave was looking for a job and the abolishtionist would only hire a white. That would mean the thing about pursuiet of happiness doesn't count.
You see, it is how you look at the information that says a great deal about what is going on. And in political geography classes I found the English Civil War's connection, where both sides look at things in away that is very close to each others views, just from different angles. The South had a view of I am better then you and therefore I am right, while the North had that do as I say because it is more holy then yours, and don't do as I do attitude. Both are superior then you attitudes, with just a different twist. And I know that I am right, just ask me and I will tell you so.
Then when you look at the higher end of the social spectrum, (art, lit. and music) you find that the north talks about stamping out the grapes of wrath, but what is that really? That the abolitionist song "Kingdom Coming" makes fun of the Black with slave language. That most of the north talks about the giving of life in the cause of freedom in this country as they did during the Viet Nam war and the war, today. But what freedom is Bill dyeing for in Baghdad? For this country or for that country? I am not saying I agree or dis-agree in either conflict, but you get my point. In the South they talked , wrote, and sang about their rights, and so I looked at the only place were rights can be taken away. What I found within our own government is as stated. (It is also stated in the internal improvements in this country, were tax money is spent on northern road networks. Then when the Yankee trooper came south one of the most common remarks was "the roads in the south are so bad, they are nothing like the good ones up north.") You see I took a part of what was said and what wasn't said. And then adding other things with what is said gives you the picture as I gave it to you. By the way, only one southern out of 30 or so diaries said anything in detail about keeping slaves. But you find no comment on slavery in Southern tunes.
The next clue was the study of the social structure of both sections, which I did and found that fear ruled the lives of many people then and still do so today. People are ready to give up all sorts of rights so they may not, on an outside chance, have to ride an airplane into a building. Lincoln played on these fears. He said so that a nation of the people, by the people....shall not parish from the earth. What, the United States is going to disapear if the south wins? The Constitution is going to disapear in puff of smoke?
Then there is the actions of the people themselves. Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation and said this is the greatness thing we had done. But it really didn't free anyone. Only those slaves in the states in rebellion were freed, were Lincoln had no power. On top of that he next signs a bill that lets West Virginia come into the Union as a slave state! And said, " if we must have succession let it be in our favor." What sort of signals does these things send? (Both papers can be questioned on their Consitutional grounds.) The North being involved in the slave trade brings into question of them being fully involved in the ending of slavery. In the south the people never say they are fighting to keep slaves. By 1864, the south was talking about freeing the slaves. Now, if they are fighting for slavery, why are they talking about giving them their freedom? That should tell you that the picture is fuzzy and the slave owner wasn't really the power that people claim they had. How, in a short 4 years, does a group of people go from holding all the power, as some claim, to having no power as to stop this freeing of the slaves movement in the south. It can be understood in April, 1865, when the South is defeated, but not in December, 1864 when they should still be holding all the cards, if this thing is just over slaves.
So, I used the majority of the people of the South, and not the few as my guide. When you do this you have to come to another conclusion as I have done.