Civil War Ignorance – Southern Perspective

by Dahni

© Copyright 4/7/10

all rights reserved

HOW can WE the People regain control of OUR right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” WE have delved into what won’t work in order to find what will work.

The List (simplified)

8.   Establish a new service to restore OUR rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Today: Civil War Ignorance – Southern Perspective

Last time WE looked at Civil War Ignorance from the Northern Perspective and its part in shaping the corrupt, corrupting and corruptible “system” within and around OUR republic. In the midst of so learned and freedom seeking society in the 1800’s in what is now the U.S.A., ignorance still prevailed in matters of slavery. Generation after generation passed this ignorance forward often without detection, but certainly without correction. Over time, this ignorance – justified and rationalized, became a ‘mindset.’ WE need to understand how this “mindset,” this ignorance; this corrupt, corrupting and corruptible “system” caused the Civil War. Today WE will look at the Southern Perspective. WE will look at 1 man – Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, his ‘Cornerstone Speech’ and the Confederate Constitution for the justification or rationalization of this ignorance from the Southern Perspective.

Before WE begin, it is important to understand why Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States was not chosen in comparing his inaugural address to that of Abraham Lincoln, which WE have already detailed, from the Northern Perspective. However, some of Jefferson Davis’ speech will be presented to follow.

Having read Jefferson Davis’ inaugural speech in its entirety and several times, it is interesting to note that he does not even one single time, mention or imply the word “slavery” or any of it’s forms. One would think that if slavery were the cause or the issue of the American Civil War, surely the president of the Confederate States would have mentioned it at least once in his inaugural address? He did not!

From the northern perspective, the issue rested solely on the belief that no single or several states could secede from the Union as it was ‘perpetual’ and only all the states could disband it. Therefore, what the southern states did, were considering, doing or that other states would later do, was illegal, according to the Union perspective. The resolve of the Union was to suppress or put down what it considered to be a rebellion or an insurrection. Lincoln made slavery the single issue which caused the separation and could not, would not address the possibility of any other cause.

Jefferson Davis in his inaugural address as president of the Confederate States had a completely different perspective.

“Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations, illustrates the American idea that governments rest upon the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February 18, 1861
Excerpt from the 2nd paragraph

Davis drew his perspective above from the Declaration of Independence. He continues with the view that the former Union, which the Confederate States had withdrawn from, was a “compact,” a contract which could be rescinded by any of the parties in concern.

The declared purpose of the compact of Union from which we have withdrawn was “to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;” and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States now composing this Confederacy, it had been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and had ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot-box declared that so far as they were concerned, the government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted a right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 had defined to be inalienable…”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February18, 1861,
Excerpt from the 3rd paragraph

It is clear from Davis’ words above that the separation centered upon states rights and ultimately, the right of the people. His view was that their former association with the Union was considered a “compact” and that this agreement or contract had become perverted which necessitated their withdrawal from it. Much of the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of his address alludes to the Declaration of Independence and implies their reasoning for the separation. It is interesting that Davis uses the word “inalienable,” above. This supposedly is taken from the Declaration of Independence. However, the word “inalienable” was not used in this document, it was the word “unalienable,” in at least as it has come to US.  Several copies of Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address were compared and each uses the same word “inalienable.”

This word was either intentional or an oversight. If an oversight, it was due to Davis or on the part of those which copied his original text with the original word having been “unalienable, ” which is the word actually used in the Declaration of independence. Words have meaning. Do the words “inalienable” and “unalienable mean the same thing?

According to most dictionaries in common use today, they apparently are defined the same and used interchangeably. Later, WE will look at these two words and find that there is a distinction between them. Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural addresses in March of this same year basically considered this new Constitution, was an illegal act. Therefore, all those that voted for it and all those which had or would vote to secede were considered to have been involved in illegal acts. Again, from Davis’ address we read:

“…rights of States subsequently admitted into the Union of 1789, undeniably recognize in the people the power to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of government. Thus the sovereign States here represented proceeded to form this Confederacy, and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution.”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February 18, 1861,
Excerpt from the 3rd paragraph

“As a necessity, not a choice, we have resorted to the remedy of separation; and henceforth our energies must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs, and the perpetuity of the Confederacy…”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February 18, 1861,
Excerpt from the 5th paragraph

Just as Lincoln would argue the idea of ‘perpetuity’ in his inaugural address less than 30 days later on March 4, 1861, Davis used the same idea here. The idea of a perpetual Confederacy is just as illogical as the Union being perpetual from which the Southern States had or would withdraw from. How can one separate from something considered perpetual (the Union) and suggest the perpetuity of a Confederacy? This is just ignorance.

Actuated solely by the desire to preserve our own rights and promote our own welfare, the separation of the Confederate States has been marked by no aggression upon others and followed by no domestic convulsion. Our industrial pursuits have received no check. The cultivation of our fields has progressed as heretofore, and even should we be involved in war there would be no considerable diminution in the production of the staples which have constituted our exports and in which the commercial world has an interest scarcely less than our own.”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February18, 1861,
Excerpt from the 9th paragraph
According to Davis, the whole cause of separation was the preservation of rights and the promotion of their own welfare.

“When they entered into the Union of 1789, it was with the undeniable recognition of the power of the people to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of that government whenever, in their opinion, its functions were perverted and its ends defeated. By virtue of this authority, the time and occasion requiring them to exercise it having arrived, the sovereign States here represented have seceded from that Union, and it is a gross abuse of language to denominate the act rebellion or revolution.”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February 18, 1861,
Excerpts from the 2nd paragraph
“As a necessity, not a choice we have resorted to separation, and henceforth our energies must be devoted to the conducting of our own affairs, and perpetuating the Confederacy we have formed.”

Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February 18, 1861,
Excerpt from the 5th paragraph
Here again, Davis addresses the idea of perpetuity. Lincoln apparently having read this address, would argue the same ignorance in perpetuating the Union.

It is quite clear in Davis’ address that he believed along with all those which voted to secede from the former Union, had every right to do so. It is clear that their cause was assumed just, for the preservation of state rights and ultimately the individual. It is also clear that their cause for separation was the promotion of their own welfare which would suggest it was not being promoted on their behalf, by their former association with the Union.

Newspapers across the country at the time, including those principal papers in New York, were in support of the right to secede. The idea was not new to the times!

“If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let us separate.’ “

Thomas Jefferson

With relative ease some may seek to quote and invoke the name and words of someone of fame and or of historical significance when attempting to justify their position. It is quite another matter when words of others are interpreted, omitted or taken out of context to support some cause for its justification. Lincoln did not know or chose not to include the words of Thomas Jefferson when he would declare in his inaugural address that the Union being perpetual was “unbroken.” Jefferson Davis in his address with 5 of the 11 states which would make up the Confederate States having already seceded or separated suggests the concept is unchanged in “perpetuating the Confederacy.”

The idea of perpetuity is indefensible and wholly ignorant from both the northern and southern perspectives. How can perpetuity be argued when the original 13 colonies had separated from England? How could Lincoln have argued perpetuity, but that all the states could disband it? How could the south argue that they had the right to secede from the Union in order to form a perpetual Confederacy?

It is my firm belief that that the South and any state today, has the right to secede if they so choose. Having separated from mother country (England) or from sister states (the Union), each have the right to form whatever government they deem appropriate to the needs of the people. While both Constitutions of the United States and the Confederate States are remarkably similar and in many ways, word-for-word declarations identical, the Southern version cannot be considered an interpretation in how the original was changed. They had every right to make whatever changes they deemed necessary. For comparison, look at the Preamble to their Constitution.


“We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”

From the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, March 11, 1861

Notice some of the differences from the U.S. Constitution in bold red italics above. The C.S. Constitution adds to and makes clear the sovereignty and independent character of each state, which would indicate that they had the right to secede again if they so chose. Notice how they changed “in order to form a more perfect Union,” to “in order to form a permanent government.” If the word “permanent” does not refer to the idea of perpetuity then perhaps it refers to the provisional government from which the Constitution of the Confederate States sprang. What may have been alluded to in the U.S. Constitution, the C.S. Constitution was clear in the inclusion of God in their government. Although no preamble carries the same legal force of the Constitution’s intentions, it does show the foundation upon which it was built.

From the entire address of Jefferson Davis’ inaugural speech and at this point in the Confederate Constitution, there is no mention or implication of slavery as to the cause, a cause or even an issue existing which precipitated the South to separate from the North. WE will need to look deeper into the Confederate Constitution and the ‘Cornerstone Speech’ by Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

Alexander Hamilton Stephens was an American politician from Georgia. He was Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He also served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia before the Civil War and after the Reconstruction period, after the Civil War. He later became Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883.

The great principle of religious liberty, which was the honor and pride of the old constitution, is still maintained and secured. All the essentials of the old constitution, which have endeared it to the hearts of the American people, have been preserved and perpetuated…”

Excerpt from the 4th paragraph: Cornerstone Speech
Alexander H. Stephens, March 21, 1861
Savannah, Georgia

Stephens alludes to the essence of the former constitution was preserved in the new one and also uses the word “perpetuated.” WE have previously and more than sufficiently have dealt with the ignorant notion of perpetuity and need not address this any further.

Allow me briefly to allude to some of these improvements. The question of building up class interests, or fostering one branch of industry to the prejudice of another under the exercise of the revenue power, which gave us so much trouble under the old constitution, is put at rest forever under the new. We allow the imposition of no duty with a view of giving advantage to one class of persons, in any trade or business, over those of another. All, under our system, stand upon the same broad principles of perfect equality. Honest labor and enterprise are left free and unrestricted in whatever pursuit they may be engaged. This old thorn of the tariff, which was the cause of so much irritation in the old body politic, is removed forever from the new.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 5th paragraph March 21, 1861

Stephens here by the words “revenue power” is referring to the power of Congress to tax and the broadly used Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The principal way in which revenue was raised during these times was the ‘tariff,’ which is basically a tax. Federal law prohibited tariffs or taxes on exported goods. The North was primarily concerned with industry and the South with agriculture, particularly cotton. The South often needed to import other goods and services from either a foreign country or states from the former Union. On their imports, tariffs were applied, but not on their exports.

Raw cotton was exported to the North to be turned into finished goods. The North was not taxed or did not have the tariff applied to what was exported from the South. Once the raw goods were finished, if the South needed them, it was considered an export from the North and they were not taxed or the tariff did not apply to them. In many cases, the South was taxed twice. Once for whatever goods they needed to produce the cotton and the second time in importing ‘finished’ goods made with the cotton they had produced.

This inequality fell on deaf ears in Congress though the South technically had representation. In essence, the Southern perspective was similar to that of the original 13 colonies when they cried, “taxation without representation.” So here, Stephen lays out both the causes which had resulted in their separation from the Union and how the Constitution of the Confederate States had resolved the issues for their future.

Again, the subject of internal improvements, under the power of Congress to regulate commerce, is put at rest under our system.

Notwithstanding this opposition, millions of money, from the common treasury had been drawn for such purposes. Our opposition sprang from no hostility to commerce, or to all necessary aids for facilitating it. With us it was simply a question upon whom the burden should fall.

“…we were compelled to pay into the common treasury several millions of dollars for the privilege of importing the iron, after the price was paid for it abroad.”

The true principle is to subject the commerce of every locality, to whatever burdens may be necessary to facilitate it.”

This is again the broad principle of perfect equality and justice, and it is especially set forth and established in our new constitution.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, Excepts from the 6th paragraph

The South, in order to compensate for what they saw as an unequal tax burden, would by necessity, force them to reduce their costs. With the invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, their prospects for success and their production increased greatly, but the cotton would still have to be brought in from the fields to be ginned. They needed manual labor and cheap labor to accomplish this to remain competitive and profitable.

The labor of slaves long in the history of the United States and even before the South separated from the Union, had been used. Slave labor and the cotton gin enabled the South to produce even more raw cotton and as their production went up, so did their tariffs or taxes. To the South, this process was unequal and no longer acceptable.

Another change in the constitution relates to the length of the tenure of the presidential office. In the new constitution it is six years instead of four, and the President rendered ineligible for a reelection.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 9th paragraph
“This is certainly a decidedly conservative change. It will remove from the incumbent all temptation to use his office or exert the powers confided to him for any objects of personal ambition. The only incentive to that higher ambition which should move and actuate one holding such high trusts in his hands, will be the good of the people, the advancement, prosperity, happiness, safety, honor, and true glory of the confederacy.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 10th paragraph

Note: This change might appear to and clearly intends to limit the term of office of the president. It would however, eliminate wasted time and resources of the People, particularly the last year of a four-year term in trying to get reelected for another term. In contrast, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in his third term as president of the United States. This precipitated the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1951, which would only allow anyone to serve in this capacity, only two four-year terms, maximum. But no matter the length of term, it does not prevent corruption of the one holding office or the possible consequences of that term of office held. Just remember the words from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address.

“…no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861, Excerpt from the 35th paragraph

Under the title of ‘Divide and Conquer’ WE will look to see what was done, “in the short space of four years.”

Having established the justification for the South to have seceded from the Union, under such issues as equality, state rights, fair and just taxation, Stephens then moved to the subject of slavery.

“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.”

Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.””

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, Excerpts from the11th paragraph
Note the words “peculiar institution,” from above. It is not clear to whom Stephens was speaking as slavery was familiar to most people in the country, even while Thomas Jefferson penned the famous words, “all men are created equal,” from the Declaration of Independence. Slavery by circumstance and population had become familiar in the South, years before Stephens made his ‘Cornerstone Speech,’ in 1861.

Stephens considered slavery as the “proper status” of the slave. According to Stephens, slavery was “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution,” which caused their separation from the Union. If this were so, then why did not Jefferson Davis, the new president of the Confederacy, in his inaugural address, mention or imply slavery even once? And in the Constitution of the Confederate States, slaves were not mentioned until Section Nine. Stephens made slavery an issue and now begins to justify this position. He even quotes Jefferson in saying this was the “rock upon which the old Union would split.”

Note: This quote believed to be made by Thomas Jefferson, has not been verified as to him being the author. Every Internet reference to this quote that was found (at least 100), points to the ‘Cornerstone Speech,’ by Stephens.

Going back to November of 1860, after Lincoln had been elected President, Governor Joe Brown of Georgia called the legislature into session to consider the question of calling a secession convention. The legislature heard from the leading Georgians of the day on the question. The following excerpt from his speech to the legislature, future Secretary of State for the Confederate States, Robert Toombs, delivered on Nov. 13, 1860, the following:

“…In 1790 we had less than eight hundred thousand slaves. Under our mild and humane administration of the system they have increased above four millions. The country has expanded to meet this growing want, and Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, have received this increasing tide of African labor; before the end of this century, at precisely the same rate of increase, the Africans among us in a subordinate condition will amount to eleven millions of persons. What shall be done with them? We must expand or perish. We are constrained by an inexorable necessity to accept expansion or extermination. Those who tell you that the territorial question is an abstraction, that you can never colonize another territory without the African slavetrade, are both deaf and blind to the history of the last sixty years. All just reasoning, all past history, condemn the fallacy. The North understand it better – they have told us for twenty years that their object was to pen up slavery within its present limits – surround it with a border of free States, and like the scorpion surrounded with fire, they will make it sting itself to death.”

Excerpt from: Robert Toombs’s Speech to the Georgia Legislature, Nov. 13, 1860

Though slavery is mentioned above, it is in reference to future expansion of not the already determined borders of the then existing states, but the expansion of the entire country (The United States of America) in the forming of new states from the existing territories at the time.

Returning to the ‘Cornerstone Speech’ by Stephens, WE will see the clear and bold position of slavery in contrast to Lincoln’s non-stance on position of slavery and his promise to not interfere with slavery in his first inaugural address. Stephens however, makes his position clear.

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, Excerpt from the12th paragraph

No one could dare argue that slavery was unique to the South. It had long been in existence in both the North and the South. Slavery cannot be argued solely from the standpoint of equality as both the North and the South viewed the slave as not being equal. For those which owned slaves and those which even near slaves, would break upon three viewpoints.

  1. A slave was not human, but more like an animal and force and even cruelty would be necessary to control the slave.
  2. A slave was not human, but more like an animal and humane discipline would be necessary to control and guide the slave to become a content with his or her place in life.
  3. A slave was a human being, just inferior to others; not able to have their own rights, but protected by compassionate treatment and perhaps then guided to some future freedom upon heaven’s shore in the hereafter.

But in all of these three, a slave was still considered to be property, by both the North and the South. The Southern viewpoint just made this position clear. As property, the Southern viewpoint was not about slavery as an institution, but among other things, it was about property rights. WE cannot even argue that this position was racist as the word was not used until 1865, after the American Civil War had ended. It is just ignorance, for it is what they knew and believed to be true. For any that knew it to be wrong for conscience sake, the conscience had long been seared as if by some hot iron, the nerves deadened, the ‘mindset’ of this ignorance no longer allowed them to feel right from wrong.

Stephens said that, “slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” WE cannot argue that the word “his” was a wholly Southern ‘sexist’ term as both the North and the South considered all females inferior to the male. This was just ignorance, for it is what they knew and believed to be true.

Not knowing or understanding ‘Mendel’s Law’ in the variations and the potential for the evolution of a species, based on internal and external circumstances, false conclusions end from having had false premises. It is just ignorance.

Not knowing or understanding genetics and functioning of the human brain, false conclusions end from having had false premises.

I am a man, but I am not nor ever will be as intelligent as Albert Einstein or as many great and notable women of many races. I can run, but have never been able nor will I ever be able to run a four minute mile. Because of my genetics, environmental conditions, my upbringing, educational background and other factors, I accept that I am inferior to others in many regards and in comparison to many races. But none of these things negate the truth that, “All men…” (all inclusive noun – women, races and by age of adulthood) “…are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 12th paragraph

Stephens accurately describes a logical argument in that false premises lead to false conclusions. However, he does not take into account that false premises and therefore false conclusions can not also, be due to ignorance as opposed to “fanaticism” and “insanity” as he purports. And he contradicts himself in concluding this paragraph with the words in reference to the slave as, “things equal which the Creator had made unequal.”

Having said those words, he must substantiate or justify those words. Truth needs no defense, only error does! Stephens will attempt to justify this ignorance.

“As I have stated, the truth of this principle may be slow in development, as all truths are and ever have been, in the various branches of science. It was so with the principles announced by Galileo it was so with Adam Smith and his principles of political economy. It was so with Harvey, and his theory of the circulation of the blood. It is stated that not a single one of the medical profession, living at the time of the announcement of the truths made by him, admitted them. Now, they are universally acknowledged. May we not, therefore, look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgment of the truths upon which our system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders “is become the chief of the corner” the real “corner-stone” in our new edifice. I have been asked, what of the future? It has been apprehended by some that we would have arrayed against us the civilized world. I care not who or how many they may be against us, when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, if we are true to ourselves and the principles for which we contend, we are obliged to, and must triumph.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 14th paragraph

It is no secret that for many years prior to the American Civil War, the negro race, the brown race, the black race, the African American race, the darker skinned race or what ever words you want to use, were considered to be cursed by God, which resulted in the color of their skin, inferiority and unequal status. It is interesting that it was not until around 1860, that “the curse against Canaan,” was first used to justify slavery.

Thousands of people who begin to understand these truths are not yet completely out of the shell; they do not see them in their length and breadth. We hear much of the civilization and Christianization of the barbarous tribes of Africa. In my judgment, those ends will never be attained, but by first teaching them the lesson taught to Adam, that “in the sweat of his brow he should eat his bread,” and teaching them to work, and feed, and clothe themselves.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 15th paragraph

What are these so-called “truths,” that Stephens alluded to and implied that people had or would need to evolve in their acceptance and understanding of them? What was, “the curse against Canaan?”

In forming the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, it was based upon the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the United States Constitution of 1789. In the Preamble of their new constitution, they added the words, “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God…” Their constitution and the South as whole were based on Judeo-Christian beliefs in a Supreme Being, God the Father and God the Creator.

Stephens’ argument that a slave is a slave either by “nature” or as a direct result from “the curse against Canaan,” is based on the idea of natural superiority or religious belief. He does not explain either. He only presents them as established “truths.”

According to the Bible, all people descended from Adam and Eve. Wickedness and corruption dominated the entire world as it was populated at the time. A flood was prophesized to Noah and he was given instructions to build an ark. After the flood, Noah, his wife and the three sons of Noah and their wives would repopulate the earth. Noah had three sons, Japheth the elder (Genesis 10:21), Shem the middle son (Genesis 10:21) and Ham the youngest son (Genesis 9:24), from which all the nations of the earth, after the flood, would descend.

All the gentile nations would come out of Japheth such as, Europe including England where many of the fore-parents of the 13 original colonies came from.

Shem, the eldest son of Noah, is the father from which the Jews (Israelites), as well as the Semitic (“Shemitic”) nations in general have descended.

From Ham, the youngest son, would come Cush or Ethiopia (Genesis 10:6), after which comes Mitsrayim, or Egypt, then PuT or Libyia, and Canaan last.

Sometime after the flood, Noah planted and cared for vineyards. One time he was drunk from too much vine. Ham the younger son according to Genesis 9:22 “saw the nakedness,” of his father Noah and told his two brothers. When Noah awoke from his drunken state and understood what his younger son Ham had done, he cursed just one of Ham’s sons, Canaan. According to the belief formed in about 1860, this curse instantly turned the skin of Canaan black. This belief is purely ignorant and cannot be substantiated from biblical text, history or science.

According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, it suggests the meaning of the names of Noah’s three sons as follows:

  • Japheth – “fair”
  • Shem –  “dusky”
  • Ham – “black” supported by the evidence of Hebrew and Arabic, in which the word chamam means “to be hot” and “to be black,” the latter signification being derived from the former.

If this is true, from a scientific point a view, Noah’s three sons by dominant and recessive genes were lighter, medium and darker skinned, that all. However, the nation of Egypt descending from Ham from the son of Canaan (see Psalms 105:23), were not as dark skinned as Cush, also a son of Ham.

As to a “perpetual” curse to the black race, this is ignorant as well and there is nothing to support it. In contrast, a curse was considered ended by the third of fourth generation.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

Exodus 20:5

In context, theses curses were a consequence of a ‘mindset’ which caused certain actions and the cause(s) was because they hated God, which means the walked a different path, contrary to the will and protection of God.

It is true however, that because of what Ham had done, his one son Canaan (not all his sons) would be cursed to the 3rd or fourth generation into servitude. Remember also, that Israel was enslaved in Egypt whose nation had descended also, from Ham through Canaan.

The Bible is full of mixed marriages, mixed blood, interracial relationships and even incest. There are two genealogical records in what many refer to as the four Gospels.

In the book of Matthew this genealogy traces the legal standing through Mary, the mother of Jesus, which enabled her son to be a king from the tribe of Judah, from David, the king of Israel. David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth. Ruth was the daughter from one of the daughters-in-law of Lot. Lot’s daughter-in-laws husbands had died. They got their father Lot drunk and slept with him which resulted in them bearing children.

So Jesus Christ was born from a history of incest and interracial relationships.

Equality and superiority has absolutely nothing to do with pure bloodlines as this does not exist in the human species. But it does however, have absolutely everything to do with unalienable rights and that all are created equal for the same opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

Stephens’ arguments for slavery being property and this being the slave’s true status and race and skin color being the consequence of being a cursed is, just wholly ignorant. He would have just been better off never mentioning it, but at least he tried to justify it whereas, Lincoln was mostly uncommitted in defining slavery and promised not to interfere with it.

As to whether we shall have war with our late confederates, or whether all matters of differences between us shall be amicably settled, I can only say that the prospect for a peaceful adjustment is better, so far as I am informed, than it has been. The prospect of war is, at least, not so threatening as it has been. The idea of coercion, shadowed forth in President Lincoln’s inaugural, seems not to be followed up thus far so vigorously as was expected. Fort Sumter, it is believed, will soon be evacuated. What course will be pursued toward Fort Pickens, and the other forts on the gulf, is not so well understood. It is to be greatly desired that all of them should be surrendered. Our object is peace, not only with the North, but with the world. All matters relating to the public property, public liabilities of the Union when we were members of it, we are ready and willing to

adjust and settle upon the principles of right, equity, and good faith. War can be of no more benefit to the North than to us. Whether the intention of evacuating Fort Sumter is to be received as an evidence of a desire for a peaceful solution of our difficulties with the United States, or the result of necessity, I will not undertake to say. I would feign hope the former. Rumors are afloat, however, that it is the result of necessity. All I can say to you, therefore, on that point is, keep your armor bright and your powder dry.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 27th paragraph

The surest way to secure peace, is to show your ability to maintain your rights. The principles and position of the present administration of the United States the republican party present some puzzling questions. While it is a fixed principle with them never to allow the increase of a foot of slave territory, they seem to be equally determined not to part with an inch “of the accursed soil.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 28th paragraph

It is interesting to note that many believe that 80% of the population of the South which fought in the Civil War were neither slave owners nor fought for the institution of slavery. In the North, many refused to fight against slavery or for the black race. Clearly, there were more important issues from these facts alone!

Notwithstanding their clamor against the institution, they seemed to be equally opposed to getting more, or letting go what they have got. They were ready to fight on the accession of Texas, and are equally ready to fight now on her secession. Why is this? How can this strange paradox be accounted for? There seems to be but one rational solution and that is, notwithstanding their professions of humanity, they are disinclined to give up the benefits they derive from slave labor. Their philanthropy yields to their interest. The idea of enforcing the laws, has but one object, and that is a collection of the taxes, raised by slave labor to swell the fund necessary to meet their heavy appropriations. The spoils is what they are after though they come from the labor of the slave.”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 29th paragraph

That as the admission of States by Congress under the constitution was an act of legislation, and in the nature of a contract or compact between the States admitted and the others admitting, why should not this contract or compact be regarded as of like character with all other civil contracts liable to be rescinded by mutual agreement of both parties? The seceding States have rescinded it on their part, they have resumed their sovereignty. Why cannot the whole question be settled, if the north desire peace, simply by the Congress, in both branches, with the concurrence of the President, giving their consent to the separation, and a recognition of our independence?”

Alexander H. Stephens
Cornerstone Speech, 30th and final paragraph

From the paragraph above, compare this to a paragraph in Lincoln’s inaugural address.

“It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861, From the 19th paragraph

From these two paragraphs above, it clearly shows the perspectives of both the North and the South. There was only one true issue which caused the American Civil War. Lincoln believed along with many from the North that no state or less than all the states could get out of the Union. Stephens believed along with many from the South that any one or several states had every right to secede.

Everything else was secondary, but slavery was made the issue by both sides.

Not soon after Stephen’s speech, Fort Sumter was fired upon first by the South, April 12 – 14, in 1861, which officially was the start of the American Civil War.

Soon after, the Northern public wanted the military to march against the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia, hopefully to put an early end to the war.

On Wilbur McLean’s farm near Manassas, Virginia, some 60,000 ‘green’ and unseasoned troops from the Union and Confederate armies met.

Former friends, neighbors and even family members drove wagons with their families and picnic lunches to watch the sight. Perhaps they were close enough to wave to those they knew on the other side of the armies which met in the middle. Perhaps some were there to be a part of history? Perhaps others had a sick sense of what they considered new, different and entertaining? Perhaps others like what WE refer to as ‘ambulance chasers’ today, felt that they needed something so traumatic, in order to feel something?

Whatever the motivations, this was the first major land Battle of the Civil War, known as the Battle of Manassas or Bull Run on July 21, 1861. It was on a farm owned by Wilmer Mclean. The entertainment was not expected to last very long. Perhaps it would be over before dinner?

It was however, like an omen, for not only was this one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, it would foreshadow the length of four years to come. It would in the costs of lives lost, be greater than all the wars fought in and by this country, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War combined!

In coming full circle, four years later, it would end at Wilmer McLean’s new home in Appomattox, VA.  The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house owned by Wilmer McLean on the afternoon of April 9, 1865. On April 12, a formal ceremony marked the disbandment of the Army of Northern Virginia and the parole of its officers and men, effectively ending the Civil War.

Note: Wilmer McLean (May 3, 1814 – June 5, 1882) was a wholesale grocer from Virginia. Some say the Civil War started in his front yard (his farm in Manassas, VA) and ended in his front parlor of his home in Appomattox, VA.

But the seeds of ignorance; a ‘mindset;’ a corrupt, corrupting and corruptible “system” had already begun to root and expand and is still among US to this present-day and in OUR present time.

WE here today, have the benefit of history to not make the same mistakes as OUR families, friends and neighbors past, from both the North and the South. If WE do not know this history of ignorance; this ‘mindset’ and this corrupt, corrupting and corruptible “system,” then WE are sure to allow it to continue!

In closing, remember the words of Abraham Lincoln from his first inaugural address.

“…no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861, Excerpt from the 35th paragraph

This is where WE are going next time.

Next Time: Divide and Conquer

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Ask not what your country can do for you

or what you can do for your country,

but what can WE the People do, for each other!”

1 of WE,

An Amer-I-Can eagle

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