Was the Civil War a Just War?
The Vindication of Clement Vallandigham
Clement Vallandigham believed the American Civil War was unjust and as a result he was “tried by court-martial, convicted, and sentenced to a term in a military prison during the continuance of the war” (234). Vallandigham’s loyalty was not to President Lincoln but to the principles that this country was supposed to stand for. The Declaration of Independence says the government is established by the people in order to protect the rights of the people, foremost among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the government become destructive towards those rights it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government. Blind obedience to government is a sign of a totalitarian state. Disobedience to government as practiced by Vallandigham, is a democratic act when that government is not fulfilling its duty to protect its obligations. It is a tough task to criticise the righteousness of the Civil War as Vallandigham did. In retrospect we all know the benefit that was obtained by the war, the freedom of the slaves. Was it worth it? The slaves were freed, and what happened after that? Were they really freed? There was no more slavery, but the slaves, were left without resources. The result was they were still under the control of the plantation owner. They were free, but they were not free. They were not slaves now. They were serfs. They were like serfs on a feudal estate. They were tenant farmers. They were sharecroppers. They couldn’t go anywhere. They didn’t have control of their lives. And they were in the thrall of the white plantation owners. The same white plantation owners who had been their masters when they were slaves were now their masters when they were serfs. I don’t want to minimize the fact that it’s still not slavery in the old sense. It is a slightly better situation. However, it’s more nuanced than simply oh, the slaves were freed and they...
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