The Civil War: the Confederate-Southern Perspective

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The Civil War: The Confederate-Southern Perspective

We are often taught in grade school the Union (or Northern view) of the Civil War because that is who won the war. In retrospect, both sides should be taught in American history, since, after all, this was a war with ourselves over differences. How different the nation would be if the South had won. Would we still engage in slavery? Would the United States have a completely different moral and ethical code in business? What of the impact of religion? Politically, how would our nation then be ran? These are just a few of the questions raised as I began my journey in search of Confederate ideals and Southern reasons for the war. In every story, there are three sides. With the Civil War, there is the Northern side, the Southern side and then there is the truth. While not all truths may be discovered, my purpose here to is to understand the defenses in which the Confederates believed they were fighting for. Business, politics, slavery and abolition, differences between Northerners and Southerners beliefs and values are all pieces to the puzzle that eventually led to the war.

The Confederacy believed they had the right to secede were based on grounds that the United States Union no longer politically supported nor represented them as a people. According to the Declaration of Independence in the opening statement: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume…the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”…“that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government”. The South strongly believed their livelihoods were at stake, and that in order to maintain the competitive balance of Northern business and industry, slavery would have to continue in the South and to expand as the nation expanded.

The United States developed as an industrialized nation because of the staple farming crops produced on the backs of Southern slaves. Without the product so highly valued in trade internationally, the North would have never been able to develop factories, and seaport businesses would not have boomed. In essence, the business of utilizing slavery as a form of labor in the South, financed the Northern merchants businesses and its ability to expand westward. As the South established the nation’s economy, it also helped fuel the growth of its Northern counterpart. However, as Northern business continued to capitalize the West, they began to denounce the South’s use of slave labor over Northern’s opportunity of “free (wage) labor”. The sectional differences began to divide the nation into two distinct opinionated regions, whom both substantially influenced the economic growth of the country as a whole. The North’s pressure to abolish slavery was a direct threat to the economy of the South, especially to the established plantation aristocrats’ paternalism and how slavery established his position and power. Slavery was a part of the culture, and to denounce slavery was to denounce the way of Southern life. For a successful plantation owner, it brought about honor, prestige and status. Although the South developed a highly stratified caste system, those in power also had much influence in the political arena and felt they were better placed to represent the common man or small farmers.

When it came to politics, slavery became a hot political debate. The South depended on slave labor in order to maintain high crop turnover and profits, and to sustain the demands of Northern market value in trade. The South found no way to ease out of the back-breaking labor of slavery, nor had a reasonable group of workers...
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