Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Slavery or State Rights?

State Rights
The predominate arguments (Rhetoric)
Secessionist Declarations from the States

Before proceeding:

  • Can you name one State Right’s issue that was relevant to the Confederacy secession?
  • Can you name one State Right’s issue that was worth going to war over?
  • Have any of the State Right’s issues that the South went to war over, lived under before the war and subsequently after the war been repealed? Would you go to war over them now?

click READ REMAINDER to continue

Most articles of the Confederate Constitution, are word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution, but there are crucial differences between the two documents in tone and content, primarily regarding slavery. The United States Constitution does not contain the words slavery or the term Negro Slaves.


State Rights, in spite of the Confederate Constitution’s preamble statement:

"We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character...”

…the Confederate Constitution was little on state rights in comparison to the issue of slavery. Excluding clauses that addresses state rights in reference to slavery there are only four clauses establishing state rights, and three more that actually remove or decrease state rights.

Rights granted to the individual states in the Confederate Constitution:

  • The ability for the States to impeach judges and federal officers working within their States.
  • The Confederate Constitution omits the phrase “emit Bills of Credit” from Article 1 Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, granting the Confederate States the right to issue such bills of credit.
  • The Confederate States gain the ability to tax ships by omitting the phrase from the U.S. Constitution that prohibits it.
  • Also in Article I Section 10(3) the Confederate States would have the power to make treaties between the each other concerning waterways.

Now, which of these ‘state rights’, gained through succession, did the average southerner feel so passionate about that he was willing to go to war over? These rights are ones that benefit only the upper-class of southerners, the elite, the plantation owner, the aristocratic south.

The Confederate States lose a few rights that the U.S. States retained.

  • States lose the right to determine if foreigners can vote in their States: Article I Section 2(1) as mentioned above.
  • Confederate States also lose the ability to restrict the rights of traveling and sojourning slave owners. : Article IV Section 2(1) (Note: Many Southerners were already of the opinion that the U.S. Constitution already protected the rights of sojourning and traveling slave owners, thus the Confederate Constitution merely made this explicit).
  • The ability for Confederate Congress to determine taxes between States.

The U.S. Constitution contained many of the phrases and clauses which had led to disagreement among the states in the original Union, including a Supremacy Clause, a Commerce Clause, and a Necessary and Proper Clause, yet the Supremacy Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause are nearly identical in both Constitutions.

On the issue of state rights the three mentioned clauses; Supremacy, Commerce, and Necessary and Proper, remained the same in the Confederate Constitution. These three clauses appear to be deeply rooted in the issue of State Rights, but the Confederacy retained them.
In the country’s original constitution, the Articles of Confederation(Article II):

"Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated".

The Articles of Confederation failed in a major way because of its inability to govern the ‘united’ states. The Necessary and Proper Clause expressly confers incidental powers upon Congress, while no other clauses in the Constitution do so by themselves. If the Confederacy was so emphatic about ‘state rights’, to the point of going to war, then why did it not delete or modify these clauses, or why didn’t they reinstate the above Article II from the Articles of Confederation. Again, the reason is these clauses are ones that benefit only the upper class of southerners, the elite, the plantation owner, the aristocratic south.
The State Rights argument was just a cover for who was benefiting from, promoting and preserving their way of life. Crucial to their way of life was the institution of slavery and the ability to antagonize the average southerner into a hostile rage towards the ideal of a freed slave taking their job and threatening their social status: the status of being higher up the social economic ladder than a slave and ‘poor white trash’.

Slavery,  In the Confederate Constitution, five articles addressing slavery is only one more article than the four that promote state right's issues. Even ignoring the net loss when you subtract the state right’s lost in the Confederate Constitution the protection of slavery was paramount in the Confederate Constitution, state legislatures, and pro-white supremacy rhetoric.


  • Whereas the original U.S. Constitution did not use the word slavery or the term "Negro Slaves", but "Person[s] held to Service or Labour" which included whites in indentured servitude.
  • Though Article I Section 9(1) of both constitutions are quite similar in banning the importation of slaves from foreign nations the Confederate Constitution permits the CSA to import slaves from the United States and specifies Africans as the subject.
  • The Confederate Constitution then adds a clause that the CSA's Congress has the power to prohibit the importation of slaves from any state that is a non-Confederate State. (isn’t this one more state right lost under the Confederate Constitution?)
  • The Confederate Constitutions (Article IV Section 2) adds that a state government cannot prohibit the rights of a slave owner traveling or visiting from a different state with his or her slaves.
  • The Confederate Constitution added a clause about the question of slavery in the territories (the key Constitutional debate of the 1860 election) by explicitly stating that slavery is legally protected in the territories.

The Confederacy explicitly defined slavery as its cause in its constitution. It did this explicitly, it also redefined the institution as being relegated to the African Race.

The predominate arguments(Rhetoric):

The Rhetoric of its leaders and legislatures further endorse the establishment as a demonstration of the godly anointed supremacy of the white race. The hateful rhetoric of these leaders mentioned state right’s, but emphasized the impact of the abolition of slavery in regards to their economy, their social stature, their safety, their wives, etc. Energizing the average southerner to take up arms could not be done by shouting state rights. State rights wasn’t something that the average southerner saw around him, it was a concept that was touted as bad and undesirable, but it wasn’t something that was going to walk in and take his job. It wasn’t something that would belittle him on the street by being ‘uppity’. He wouldn’t have to share the bunk house with state rights. On the other hand a freed African Slave was all around him, would do his job for less and might work harder, might wear finer clothes in public. These were the fears that had to be implemented to protect the southern economy and way of life. State rights may have been a drag on the southern economy, but abolition was a real threat.

Article IV Section 3(3)

The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.

In an 1861 speech delivered by Alabaman politician Robert Hardy Smith, the State of Alabama declared its secession from the Union over the issue of slavery, which he referred to as "the negro quarrel". In the speech, Smith praised the Confederate constitution for its un-euphemistic protections of the right to own slaves:

“We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. Now, is there any man who wished to reproduce that strife among ourselves? And yet does not he, who wished the slave trade left for the action of Congress, see that he proposed to open a Pandora's box among us and to cause our political arena again to resound with this discussion. Had we left the question unsettled, we should, in my opinion, have sown broadcast the seeds of discord and death in our Constitution. I congratulate the country that the strife has been put to rest forever, and that American slavery is to stand before the world as it is, and on its own merits. We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes 'slaves', and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.”

Robert Hardy Smith, 1861

In his Cornerstone Address given a few weeks before the Confederacy would fire the first shots of the Civil War, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens laid out specifically what southern states were seceding over, and what would be the foundation of their new government’s constitution:

“…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…”
”…Our new government[‘s]… foundations are laid, its corner-stone 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. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Secessionist Declarations from the States:

Four southern states issued Secessionist Declarations. All four pronounced an emphasis on slavery: 

Mississippi kept it simple:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world... [The north] advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.”

Georgia's declaration, managed to use various forms of the word "slave" or "slavery" 35 times:

“…The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization…”

South Carolina was big on property rights, and by "property," they meant "people":

“…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 assumed 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…”

Texas, just a snippet of its long, frothing white supremacist diatribe:

“…[Texas] was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery - the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits - a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time...”
“…They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States...”
“…We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable…”

by Glenn Littrell

Heritage or Hate?” is a 4-part series on the subject of the meaning and appropriateness of the Rebel Flag, the Southern Cross. The 4 parts are:

Click on any of these titles to read.


U.S. Constitution

Article of Confederation

Supremacy Clause

Commerce Clause

Necessary and Proper Clause

Constitution of the Confederate States of America

see also: Heritage or Hate   and    The Confederate Flag or Old Glory

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