MYTH– “Confederate symbols should not be tolerated because they represent a government that fought a war to keep blacks in bondage and to preserve the institution of slavery.”
This is one of the most commonly used arguments against Confederate Symbolism and one of the easiest to prove false.
Everyone knows that the South (and the North) had slavery until 1865. The north had slavery at least until 1866, due to some holdouts like future President Union General Ulysses S. Grant who refused to give-up his slaves until the passage of the 13th Amendment. Prior to 1866, slavery was completely legal. The Supreme Court had ruled favorably on the legality and constitutionality of slavery. Presidents Buchanan and Lincoln both promised many times, that they would not interfere with the practice of slavery. Even new laws were put on the books protecting slave owners from loss of slave property due to theft or runaways. Add to that, the fact that the Confederate States constituted the fifth wealthiest region in the world.
The slave owning states had all of these things and more. So why on earth would Southern States secede from the United States? Surely, no one believes that the South would have left the security of the Union and gone to fight a war for something they already had! Countries do not fight wars for the things they have, they fight wars to obtain the things they do not have.
To emphasize how secure the institution of slavery was in the United States, let’s look at what it would have taken to eliminate it. Since slavery was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, it would require a Constitutional Amendment and that is very difficult to achieve. Two-thirds of the House and Senate must agree to the Amendment and then three-fourths of all the states must vote to ratify the Amendment before it can become part of the U.S. Constitution. This simply would never have happened as long as the Southern States stayed in the Union! That’s right; with the South in the Union, the northern and Southern slave states would have voted down any attempt to amend the Constitution, thereby guaranteeing that the immoral institution of slavery could continue almost indefinitely. So you see, it is quite easy to prove that the South did not secede and fight a war to maintain slavery; an institution they already possessed.
What the South did not have was financial freedom. Southerners were slaves to the industrial demands of the north, just as blacks were slaves to the agricultural demands within the bonds of an unjust labor system. Growth potential was severely limited in the South so long as the north continued to levy heavy Tariffs on things that Southerners needed to purchase; and heavy taxes on those things that Southerners produced.
(Article courtesy of the General William Barksdale Camp 1220, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Columbus, Mississippi, September 2014)