6/03/2015

The U.S. Civil War, Slavery, and Revisionism

As I expected, the previous post didn´t go over well. This one will discuss US Civil War historical revisionism. It isn´t about to go over very well either. 

Bombardment of Fort Sumter, which 
formally started the U.S. Civil War. 

People don´t like to read about   human rights abuses unless they are abuses carried out by their enemies-du-jour (like the Islamists cutting off prisoners´heads, Argentina´s dictatorship stealing babies from women prisoners, and shit like that). They don´t want to hear much about human rights abuses in Cuba, at a time when US and European elites are focused on establishing links with the “reborn” Cuban dictatorship (reborn in the sense that it will accept capitalism and foreign investment as long as it is allowed to keep the Cuban people in bondage and peddle itself as  “Marxist”). 

This brings me to historical revisionism by Americans who distort the  Confederacy formed by the Slaver States, and the way they started the US Civil war. Why do I write revisionism? Because they say the Civil War was triggered by Slaver States resentment of  Federal tariffs, or because “they were defending state´s rights”. And that´s sort of bullshit. 

The Civil War was about state´s rights alright.  It was mainly about the states´ rights to have legal slavery,  and the resentment caused by escaped slaves, who weren´t returned from the North (people in the North, for the most part,  were racist as hell, but they drew the line at slavery).

I´ve been involved in debates over this topic ever since High School. You see, when I was a Junior I got placed in a newly integrated High School in South Florida,  That was the in the 1960´s.  

When I arrived in South Florida I was still trying to figure out what the US was about. Before moving to South Florida,  I had been living in a Jewish area in New York (I had gone there from Spain, which had been my first “foreign”  home after I diddied out of Cuba).  

My careful analysis of the available ethnic data I saw in New York  led me to conclude most Americans were Jewish, but there was a small group of blacks, Italians, Chinese,  Puerto Ricans,  and other minorities, which practiced Christianity. When I lived in New York, the only black  I knew close up  was a rich kid who spoke French, the son of the Haitian consul  (a really fine soccer/football player) and that was it. 

I was so sure about the data, and my conclusions, and  so keen into integrating and becoming a good American that I volunteered to join the Israeli Defense Forces during the 67 war. Thank G-d  volunteering didn´t go over very well with the Israeli consulate official I talked to, and  put an end to my  fervent Zionist phase (which explains in part why I can call Netanyahu a real s.o.b. with a very clear conscience).  

In South Florida, the  guy who sat next to me in homeroom, and also had his locker next to mine,  was a black guy named Rubin Carter. Rubin was a football player, and also happened to be a pretty darned good wrestler. So I got to rub shoulders with a real black guy for the first time after I left Cuba.

Basically, sitting next to the guy allowed me to see blacks were pretty normal folk. And in Rubin´s case pretty polite and focused on getting ahead.  Rubin was about my height, but my guess is he must have weighed over 220 lbs (100 kg for non Americans), and the extra weight he carried was muscle. So I was pretty keen on getting along with the guy, which worked well because he was a pretty nice guy, and we got along fine.

Rubin now, he  used to sit next to
 me in home room in the 1960´s

Race and racism were a big topic in those days, because blacks were burning down their neighborhoods to get back at whitey.  I  got into some pretty interesting debates with other students over the nature of racism, slavery and so on.   I debated  with my best friends and their parents (who happened to be overwhelmingly  upper caste  white folk because they dominated the honors courses I was taking, I didn´t debate much with the guys at the furniture factory where I worked after school). 

Preparing for those debates involved reading, and of course researching old documents. And that led me to the  “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union”. That declaration is pretty good debate ammo, it says:

“In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows:

"No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." 

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States. 

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.

 In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. 

In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. 
Scene from "12 Years a Slave", 
a recent movie about slavery

They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”

That crap goes on, but I copied enough to give you an idea.

But wait, there´s more. The other slaver states had similar declarations, and almost all of them put slavery front and center as the main cause for secession. Which means the historical revisionism we see going on today is mostly an attempt to whitewash and paper over the fact that slaver state elites were so keen on owning other people, they decided to start a war rather than give up their “rights”.




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