Successionism & The Civil War

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Successionism & The Civil War

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    Selah CJW

    @his-bard wrote:

    In real history, probably no real reason for the west to start a second secession, other than because they probably could’ve gotten away with it.

    But in my story timeline, the town that sparks the new secession movement is under the leadership of individuals who are fed up with Federal over-reach. They disagree with the Civil War, they disagree with all the conflicts with the Native Americans, they feel that the government is very quickly reverting back to a state of ‘taxation without representation’, and various other issues as well, which drives them to the decision to start over. And in modern times, this autonomous government is really glad that it did what it did when it did it, cause its shaking its head at the US and how we are, in real life, controlled by two corrupt political parties, how we’ve been in a constant state of war for over 30 years, and how we brought ourselves to the brink of financial collapse.

    I know at this point, my story sounds like its built on top of all kinds of conspiracy theories. And to be 100% honest, it is. But throughout life, I’ve seen evidence which seems to suggest many conspiracies, myths, legends, etc are often based on some element of truth. Which is why I run with them so much. I’m not declaring any conspiracies to be true, nor am I declaring wrong what we’ve been taught in our history books. All I want to do is incite questions, get more people interested in digging for truth, regardless of whatever that actual truth might turn out to be.

    I agree with you. Have you read the book, “The Lost Order“, by Steve Berry? That is one of the books I read that started to change my mind on this whole issue. Sure, there is a lot of speculation and an obviously fictitious storyline, but the facts are still there.

    The Civil War was a war of successionism, not slavery. The issue was their right to succeed from the Union, no matter the reason why. Abraham Lincoln, in different speeches, made that pretty clear. The Constitution, speaking of the newly United states, says, “In order to form a more perfect Union…” That’s not a perfect Union that would never be divided, but a more perfect Union, subject to change.

    Lincoln’s view on successionism changed, as well. Before the Civil War, he wrote that the it was a Constitutional right that states could succeed, just as we had from Great Britain. But that all changed when the war broke out.

    I still have a ton of study to do in this arena, and I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. But I do think there is a lot more to all of it than we have been taught, and I certainly don’t condemn all Southerners as slave owners who were fighting the Civil War in order to enslave human beings, like I used to. 🙂

    What are your thoughts on it? What are some good books you have read on the subject?

    Tagging some history people who might have some thoughts: @samantha-pen  @rochellaine  @seekjustice  @lrc  @valtmy  @the-inkspiller  @pursuewisdom  @northerner  @moonlighting-novelist  @scarletimmortalized

    If you guys want to read the beginning of this conversation that has culminated in creating this thread, you can read it here. 🙂

    Assistant Guildmaster of the Phantom Awesome Meraki
    ~ Created to create ~

    His Bard


    Can’t say I’ve read that one yet, actually. I am definitely interested in getting my hands on it now, though.

    With Lee, In Virginia, by G.A. Henty is one that I have read, roughly halfway through high school. It takes place through the eyes of a southerner (plantation owning) protagonist. Again, a work of fiction, but early in the story, it mentions the protagonist and most of his fellow Virginia slave owners treating their slaves totally unlike the concept that had been driven into my head. And what’s interesting to note, is that of all the stories Henty wrote, the Civil War is one of the events that occurred during his lifetime, and as a Brit, he had no reason to favor one side or the other.

    But if I’m not mistaken, it was Henty’s book that suggested a slave owner really had no reason to treat his slaves cruelly. Yes, he would’ve viewed them as property, and wrongly so, but as property, they would hence be real estate. A sizeable investment which logic would dictate taking care of.

    Now, I was, am, and always will be, a natural skeptic of all things ever. So no, I didn’t have some sudden epiphany and immediately decide Henty was more of an authority on the subject than all who would present evidence of slave owners treating their slaves cruelly.

    But it did put me on the path to questioning my history books. It made me realize, ‘Hey, there could very well be a whole other side of the war that nobody discusses any more, an unpopular opinion that has become taboo and been drowned in propoganda.

    Yeah, the evidence may be a bit sketchy. Yeah there might not be a whole lot. Yeah there might be tons of evidence supporting the politically correct point of view. But if history is written by the victors, that’s what we’d expect to see.

    But over the years, it dawned on me that the logic doesn’t add up.

    ~Why would any slave owner in their right mind abuse that which they paid good money for?

    ~Why would a government, which in that same era was oppressing the Native Americans and legalizing indentured servanthood, suddenly get the overwhelming urge to free slaves and invest in a whole war over it?

    ~Why would the fate of the south end up in the hands of men like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson? Lee opposed slavery. He had been offered a command in the Union army, but remained loyal to Virginia. Why would he choose loyalty to a state over the chance to quickly abolish slavery, unless maybe there was something else at stake? And Jackson, though he was not opposed to slavery, would’ve preferred that Negroes be free.

    ~Both Lee and Jackson supported a more aggressive campaign. Taking the war into the north, hitting their military infrastructure, striking hard and fast and giving the north no opportunity to gain a foothold in the south. This would’ve been correct, by all strategy and logic. But it was President Davis, solidly pro-slavery, who forced them to fight a more defensive war, which is what set the stage for the south’s defeat. Neither general was particularly pro-slave. So why wouldn’t they have gone and joined the north, where A, they could supposedly help free slaves, and B, they would readily gain permission not just to fight aggressively, but likely permission to get even more aggressive than either’s moral compass would’ve permitted (Sherman’s March, anyone?)

    ~If slavery was the whole issue, why would it take two full years of war before the Emancipation Proclamation? But if freeing the slaves was just a side-gimmick tacked on in order to raise more support for the war during a morale low, such a move would make total sense.

    I may find absolute answers to these questions some day. I may not. But I’m asking them anyway. That’s what sets mankind apart from the animal kingdom. We can question things. We don’t have to take things at face value–well, other than things God himself says, obviously. 😉


    Just a wild guess, but I can imagine why the south seceding would’ve sounded so terrible to the Union. Competition.

    We fought the French. We fought the Spanish. We fought the British. We fought the Native Americans. We didn’t want to compete, we wanted to rule. We didn’t want equals. Today, Russia shares our position of world superpower. But imagine if we were sharing that position with another America? Imagine if they actually ended up stronger than us because their states retained sovereignty.

    This is exactly how it goes in my story. My autonomous government grows to eventually become the 11th largest military and #1 most technologically advanced nation. And their strength worries my fictional US like the Israelite population in Egypt worried Pharaoh before he enslaved them.

    Defeat your enemy before he becomes your enemy, even if he had no actual intention of being your enemy till you attacked him. And that is how you pave the road to conquering the world.

    Spoken words are forgotten. Written word lasts forever. Writers are the most powerful mortals to exist.

    Holly Anne


    Have you read ‘The War Between The States: America’s Uncivil War’ by John J. Dwyer? It’s a pretty hefty book, but it is so good because it goes into all of the ideologies and viewpoints/agendas behind the war. Definately recommend!

    The conclusion is pretty similar to what you said in that the war was much more about secessionism, tariffs, etc with slavery as the ‘righteous cause’ that it was promoted under. Cool to hear other people’s view on this!

    "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger darling" (Inception)
    Composer, Writer, Sarcastic 😉

    Selah CJW


    YAS!! I love Henty’s books. And that one was amazing…glad you mentioned it. That was a real eye-opener to me as far as Britain was concerned…really, really interesting. I learned a lot from it as well. 🙂 I found it really neat how the MC was willing to risk his life helping a mistreated slave, as well. Kinda correlated with several other things I’d read about the British view of the Civil War.

    And wow…I totally agree with all of what you said, reasons why the South was not just fighting “to keep slaves”, and not all slave owners were cruel, either. The latter fact is well documented, we just really don’t hear about it that much.

    Back to the issue of successionism, which I believe was really the root cause as to why the Civil War was fought. From Lincoln’s speeches, letters, etc… it is clear that before the war, he believed that successionism was quite Constitutionally legal. Somewhere along the line, however, his view changed, and the war was fought. I believe he had a tremendously hard decision, and probably made the right one…but at the cost of a bloody war. Pretty interesting study.

    This article was really interesting:

    Many people think the Civil War of 1860-1865 was fought over one issue alone, slavery. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. The War Between the States began because the South demanded States’ rights and were not getting them.

    The Congress at that time heavily favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable. The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the South, and stopped these practices that were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain, then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not have occurred. 

    I know for many years, we have been taught that the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort. The war had been in progress for two years by that time. 

    Most southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families. They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave. 

    Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union. However, after following my family around since I was just a year old to Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than abolishing the institution of slavery. 

    It was more about preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded. I personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am glad that slavery was abolished, but I don’t think it should be glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights.

    Slavery was a part of those greater issues, but it was not the reason the Southern States seceded from the Union, nor fought the Civil War. It certainly was a Southern institution that was part of the economic system of the plantations, and because of that, it was part and parcel of the economic reasons that the South formed the Confederacy. The economic issue was one of taxation and being able to sell cotton and other raw materials where the producers wanted to, rather than where they were forced to, and at under inflated prices. Funny, it sounds very much like the reason we broke from Great Britain to begin with. The South was within their rights, but there should have been another way to solve the problem. If they had been willing to listen to Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the war could have been avoided. Lincoln had a plan to gradually free the slaves without it further hurting the plantation owners. He also had a plan to allow them to sell their products anywhere they wanted to and at a fair price. They did not choose to listen to the President, however, so they formed the Confederacy and the Civil War began.

    If you have time to read a little longer article that was really intriguing, read this. I find this whole topic so interesting! XD


    Assistant Guildmaster of the Phantom Awesome Meraki
    ~ Created to create ~


    The Politically Incorrect Guide to The South and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War are both short reads, but packed with a lot of good information in them. There’s also a book called The South Was Right which includes first hand accounts of the war, from soldiers fighting in it. I also know a pastor in Georgia, John Weaver, who has some talks on the history and significant people within the Confederacy.


    History is such a tricky thing because in most wars, each side had good and each side had bad. I thought I had always known that, but in studying the Wars of the Roses era I found it all the more true. I’m sure if someone wanted to spend the time, money, frustration, and tears they could power through books and articles (and family trees because…fun…) on the Civil War and find a good middle ground. And as much as I love diving in and learning new things (and then talking people’s ears off about it), that person can’t be me. I started to read through this whole thread, had a hundred things to say, and then decided to give up. 😀

    , Your story idea sounds cool. A ton of people have already recommended books, so I will just suggest finding and reading at least some of them. 😉 Also, I looove that line you said:

    Now, I was, am, and always will be, a natural skeptic of all things ever.

    I completely agree, lol. 😀

    P.S. My fictional minstrel/bard says hello and God speed. 😀

    Edmund Lloyd Fletcher

    I’d like to add on to what @lrc said.  I believe that most (possibly, all) wars come with both a reason and a pretense.  The powers in charge have their reason (case in point, secession and preserving the Union) but to get people to be willing to enlist and fight they need a pretense (slavery).

    Not to say that the pretense isn’t partially, or totally true (works better if it is), just saying that it is not the same thing as the reason.

    reason – fulfilling the duties of our european alliances
    pretense – sinking of the Lusitania
    reason – nazi bid for world domination
    pretense – pearl harbor
    Korean War
    pretense – Northern incursion into south Korea
    reason – cold war with China
    (Vietnam, more or less the same thing.)

    You could go on and on…

    Homeschooling father of 10, writing Christian action/adventure novels from my home high in the Rockies.

    Edmund Lloyd Fletcher

    Also, concerning secessionism, I found out something interesting.   I guess there was (is?) a big secession movement in Hawaii, of all places.

    I only found out about this because I was listening to Israel Kamakawiwo (quite the character anyway) but, come to find out, he was big (ahem.) in the Hawaiian independence movement.

    I guess their thought is, “we were our own kingdom before, so why not now?”

    Not to take sides (not really invested either way), but to me, I just shrug and say, “I guess.”  Because if this is truly a voluntary union then, if that’s truly what they want, let them!  Otherwise, it’s called ‘conquest’, not ‘a union’.  But then, nobody asked me, so take that for what it’s worth… 😉

    Homeschooling father of 10, writing Christian action/adventure novels from my home high in the Rockies.


    @selah-chelyah Thanks for inviting me into this conversation!

    There are a couple of things I’d like to clear up, having studied a rather extensive amount of books and articles on the Civil War.

    First of all, just a quick spelling correction, you’re both spelling the term as “succession” when it’s really “secession”.  “To secede’ is very different from “to succeed.”  The south did not fully succeed in seceding.  😛

    Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, I first want to state that I am a Southern supporter.  I want to state that now because I feel like some of my arguments and explanations may make it sound like I support the North.  So, here goes.

    You are correct in stating that the war was fought over secessionism, and that the states were seceding because they thought their rights were taken away.  However, one of the biggest factors among those rights was the right to keep and own slaves.  In the years leading up to the war, many of the major powers of the world had already freed their slaves, including England, (a few of you may be familiar with William Wilberforce) and there was a lot of “peer pressure” on America to do so as well.

    At the same time, America was expanding its western borders, and settling in new land, preparing to mark new states in its western territories.  Many of the northern states had put in place abolition laws, and there began conflicts among the representatives in congress as to whether the new western states would be free or slave states.  The south believed each individual state should have the right to choose whether slave owning was allowed, and the north wanted to simply have the government demand the laws in the new states.

    So, the problem the southern states had was about government control of the states, but a large part of that had to do with the slave laws.

    Now, with regards to why the Emancipation Proclamation was not put in place until the middle of the war:  At the start of the war the south was heavily favored by both the French and the English.  They stayed out of it for the most part, but were sending supply ships to the southern borders and giving other support (which I don’t know much about.)  Lincoln became afraid of the foreign support the south was getting.  He sent ships to the south to block the foreign aid from entering the borders, but he worried that the south would begin to get actual support possibly in the form of armed forces from France and England.  To prevent this, he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, officially turning the war into an issue of slavery.  Since France and England had already freed their slaves and taken a stance against slavery, they could not openly support a side that was officially fighting to keep slavery.  So they backed off, and Lincoln could focus solely on the south.

    Slavery was not a big issue for Lincoln – he wanted the power and the unity of all the states as one.  But he was willing to use slavery as a bargaining tool to keep the other world powers out of the fight. (Someone said his stance on secession changed, and that’s possibly that he received power, and realized he wanted to keep it.  Power corrupts, as the saying goes.)

    One little note on the Emancipation Proclamation…it didn’t free any slaves.  It specifically stated that only the slaves in the seceding states were to be freed, and none of the slaves in, for example, Maryland (which was a slave state that did not secede) were freed.  The problem is, the Confederacy had formed its own country, so he was basically saying that he was freeing slaves in another country.  It’s almost like saying “prisoners of Switzerland, we declare you all free” which does absolutely nothing, except state that if we won a war with Switzerland, we’d free all their prisoners. (yeah, I just picked a random country. 😉 )  Since the north did win, the slaves did get freed, but if they hadn’t, the Emancipation Proclamation would have been nothing but a piece of paper.

    By the way, if anyone disagrees with me, or wants a debate, I am willing to discuss and research more history; this is just what I’ve discovered so far and what I believe at this time.


    Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn Wells


    @pensword It’s been a while since I read the Politically Incorrect Guides, but I’d like to leave a warning here, isn’t there some stuff in them that’s not really great for kids?  Though there are many adults here, there are also some very young people, who might rather not read those books.

    I honestly don’t remember what it is I’m referring to, though.  I just have a vague recollection that the books didn’t seem to be by Christian authors, or that they were rather crass at some points.  So if you disagree, I could be remembering wrong.

    Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn Wells

    His Bard

    Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, I first want to state that I am a Southern supporter. I want to state that now because I feel like some of my arguments and explanations may make it sound like I support the North. So, here goes.


    You’re not wrong. That’s mostly stuff I’ve come across in my research as well. Though I hadn’t actually connected the dots yet between the emancipation and the Confederacy’s foreign aid. That makes sense, though, beside seemingly pro-slavery quotes attributed to Lincoln, if he wasn’t actually all that much of an abolitionist, and was only tacking on a side gimmick to drive a wedge between the South and her allies.

    But even so, you’re right that slavery would still be a main issue, just for the reason that he officialized it. But what I wish I could do is go around all the campfires and interview all the soldiers, hear each one’s individual reasons for fighting.

    Probably would hear everything, from slavery and/or state rights, to freed slaves fighting for the north, to those still enslaved but fighting for the south because their masters offered to free them at the end, to those who were fighting just because they thought Lincoln looked bad in a beard. Okay…maybe a bit of a stretch on that one… XD

    The problem is, the Confederacy had formed its own country, so he was basically saying that he was freeing slaves in another country. It’s almost like saying “prisoners of Switzerland, we declare you all free” which does absolutely nothing, except state that if we won a war with Switzerland, we’d free all their prisoners.

    When you put it that way, it does sound rather a silly proclamation… XD

    Not that it has anything to do with the discussion, but the British support that the South had been able to acquire included some of the best firearms in the era, the Whitworth .451 rifle. To this day, some unknown Confederate sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, still holds one of the longest confirmed kills on record.

    Spoken words are forgotten. Written word lasts forever. Writers are the most powerful mortals to exist.

    Chelsea R.H.


    Hawaii was illegally overthrown in the 1880s and they have been petitioning to regain their independence ever since then. Their Queen headed up the movement until her imprisonment in 1900s (ironically for treason against the US government), but its been going pretty solidly since then.

    That’s just a little fact I learnt the other day so I thought I’d share it here, since it was brought up.


    And I think someone tagged me to give my opinion on this topic. Quite frankly, I know nothing of the Civil War and don’t have any opinions on it 😉

    Ceud mile failte

    Selah CJW


    Sorry I have been gone for so long! Finally back now… XD


    Wow, cool! I will have to check that book out. Sounds really neat.


    (Love your short tag, btw. Lol!)

    Ah, I get the “want-to-get-involved-in-every-topic-like-crazy-but-don’t-have-time” thing! Thanks for saying hi, though. 🙂 And I love that line that @his-bard said, as well. So true!!


    I agree with you, as least mostly. XD  There is definitely typically both a reason and a pretense for any given war in history, but I also think they can be almost the same things at the root. I also believe that most wars (esp a lot farther back in history) have a lot more complex reasons + causes, etc. Not nearly so cut-and-dried as a lot of our more modern wars.

    Your thought on Hawaii was interesting…I mean, the same thing happened in Haiti with the French rule, and Cuba with the Spanish, etc, etc, etc… it goes on forever! Throwing off an oppressive rule, or just a rule they did not like, though that was more rare. I mean, the Revolutionary War and independence of America as a country was really the exact same thing. Thus, the Confederate states really wanted to do the same thing that its mother country had done a hundred years before…in fact, many of them reasoned that way. Interesting thoughts, and not the way that it seems like we really think about the Civil War nowadays. 🙂

    Either way, there is a lot of positives and negatives on both sides, if you ask me.


    Hey! Thanks for joining the discussion…and thanks for clearing that up. XD
    I totally agree with you. I have read a lot about William Wilberforce, and things he’s written, and agree about the whole peer-pressure thing in that time. It’s kinda amazing how much that influenced the world, when Britain passed the slave ban. (Side note: Have you seen the movie, Amazing Grace? I love that movie!)

    YES! From what I have studied, and been studying more recently, I have seen the same things you mentioned. The only place I might differ would be in regard to Lincoln. I believe his motives were pure, and he went to war because he believed it would be the best thing for the nation (not saying I agree or disagree). He had a really, really job, being president during that time. I think that at first slavery might not have been the issue, but that is not necessarily true about later on + after the war.

    The Emancipation Proclamation certainly was pretty useless, and not the nice free-all-the-slaves document we are taught that it is. 🙂


    Very true about the firearms! Kinda crazy. The Union seemed like it was always quite aware of the fact that they had better firearms than they did, and that that contributed to their scout’s and sniper’s success rates a lot, as compared to theirs.


    Sorry! I keep forgetting, and I know you’ve read a lot of history and like these kinds of discussion. Oops. XD

    Assistant Guildmaster of the Phantom Awesome Meraki
    ~ Created to create ~

    Selah CJW


    Btw, I told you about the wrong book. XD It is actually The Lincoln Myth, not The Lost Order, by Steve Barry. And you should still check it out if you have a chance. (Actually both of them are awesome with the history and all in them.)I just read it again and was freshly amazed. I do have to say that it is a little bit heavy on some subjects, but still fine in my books even if I don’t agree with all of the views in it. 🙂

    Assistant Guildmaster of the Phantom Awesome Meraki
    ~ Created to create ~

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