Paul Craig Roberts– Before I answer the questions it needs to be clearly stated that my answers are not merely my opinion, but hard facts supported in the historical record. Like John Maynard Keynes, I like to keep my views in accordance with the facts. In the case of what is called “the Civil War,” the facts are clear enough.
Lincoln and the Republicans understood that the 2 March 1861 Morrill Tariff would result in secession of Southern states from the Union. On the same day in an effort to prevent secession, the Republicans passed and Lincoln endorsed the Corwin Amendment. The Corwin Amendment would have made it impossible for slavery to be abolished.
“On 2 March 1861, in a futile attempt to prevent the secession of the slaveholding states, Congress proposed, and sent to the states for ratification, a constitutional amendment designed to protect slavery in the states where it existed.”
If the Republicans invaded the South to overthrow slavery, why did they pass a constitutional amendment that would have preserved slavery forever? If the South went to war in defense of slavery, why did the South not ratify the Corwin Amendment and remain in the Union?
These questions have been evaded by dishonest historians ever since the end of the war.
The war was a bloody business. The Union generals Sherman and Sheridan targeted not only Southern armies but civilians and their shelter and food supplies. As the war came to an end the devastated condition of the South was creating northern sympathy, something the extreme Republicans pushing more punishment and humiliation under their Reconstruction policy did not want. The Republicans saw the need to turn the explanation of the war into a moral project to free the slaves from the iniquity of white Southerners. Reconstruction went beyond the South’s defeat and inflicted brutal humiliation. This required creation of an immoral image of the South fighting to keep people in slavery.
As the victors write the histories, the reconstructed account prevailed. The creation of black studies as university departments and the civil rights disturbances in the 1960s served to renew the positioning of white Southerners as reprehensible and in need of a second Reconstruction via busing and coerced racial integration.