The Distorted Perception Of The Civil War

By Emily Lynn | USA

The Civil War plays a huge part in the history of the United States. It still makes an impact to this day when discussing racism and the Confederacy. Confederate monuments are protested against and are taken down for supporting slavery and racism. But are we really seeing that correctly?

Slavery was most definitely a conflict during the civil war era. There’s is absolutely no way to deny that. Slavery played a huge part in the economy of the south and was even mentioned in the Confederate States’ constitution. However, Abraham Lincoln announced that the civil war was to protect the union and to bring it back together, he even mentioned that he wouldn’t free any slaves in order to do so. In a letter to James C. Conkling in 1863, he announced that the emancipation was only a military strategy.

Abraham Lincoln was not anti-slavery. One of the biggest civil war figures targeted is Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general. Unlike Lincoln, Lee was actually legitimately against slavery. He stated the following before the war:

“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country.”

So what was really the main reason the Confederacy fought? The unfair tariffs brought by the Union. These tariffs were corrupt because they benefited the Union but were biased against the South. The south paid 80% of the revenue while it was being spent in the North. As Lincoln came into presidency the tariffs increased very rapidly, especially since he was protectionist.  He made many statements in his inauguration threatening that tariffs would be forced. These tariffs were clear exploitation of the Southern economy to profit the business in the North.

The states seceded because of these tariffs and established a new government that was less collective. Lincoln sent a fleet of troops down to Fort Sumter in 1861 to fight the Confederacy. This was the beginning of the civil war.

The United States was originally created to be a Union of states voluntarily. Which means it should have been okay for the states to secede. When Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the Confederate president he stated: “All we want is to be left alone.” This war was clearly not started over the defense of slavery. Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee considered slavery as crimes against humanity. We don’t teach this in our schools. The school system takes a statist approach of defending the union against the “rebels” who “fought for slavery”.

Considering confederate monuments as a defense for the institution of slavery and racism just goes against facts. The Confederate soldiers clearly defended their homeland and family against a corrupt government taking advantage of them.  And especially since we live in a society where the government takes advantage of us, we should look up to some of these men as patriots.