Don’t be fooled–the Confederacy was pro-slavery!

If you haven’t been over to Kevin Levin’s invaluable and fearless blog Civil War Memory, get over there now! If anyone is dedicated to blasting myths about the Civil War and the ideology of the Confederacy, it’s Kevin. The work he does is risky, because a lot of people have a lot at stake in trying to tell us that the Confederate South loved black Americans and treated enslaved black people with¬† more love and kindness than you have for your own children today.

But it’s not true, and Kevin proves that in every post. Thanks, Kevin, and keep it up!

11 thoughts on “Don’t be fooled–the Confederacy was pro-slavery!

  1. Did you know that there was slavery in the North? Did you know that were instances of black slave owners? Did you know that England traded 10 million slaves mostly to countries other than the US? Did you know that Brazil had slavery far longer than the US?

    My point is that the American South is not responsible for all things slavery. Ownership was about 25% among southern US.

    Did you know that the US decimated the Native Americans? And it took 100 years following the Civil War to bring equal rights to blacks. Again, my point is that there was moral parity between whites in all regions of the US. Therefore, the American South should not receive an inordinate amount of blame and hate for policies carried out among the minority of its people. You’ll never get this kind of fair and balanced view from anti-southerner Kevin Levin.


  2. Hello Jim. There was slavery in the north, until it was outlawed by all the original northern states, and never allowed into the new northern states. There was slavery in the south from the formation of the Union until it was forcibly ended following the Civil War.

    There is a difference between racism and slavery. Many, even most white Americans were racist, but only southerners held people as slaves from start to finish. The northerners may have been racist, but they still could not condone enslaving black people, and acted accordingly.

    Kevin’s and my own point is not that only the south was racist, but that the revisionists who claim the Confederacy was not formed to protect and promote black enslavement are wrong. They are engaging in a practice that began in the south as soon as the Civil War ended, which was claiming that the Confederacy was about states’ rights. However, if you read the Confederate constitution, the statements of its leaders, and the letters and speeches of Confederate representatives who traveled to other southern states to convince them to join the Confederacy, you see clearly that slavery was the be-all and end-all of that particular political entity.

    So yes, the Confederacy was pro-slavery. And while the north may have been racist, it’s hard to say that people who outlawed slavery in their own states, then approved the Emancipation Proclamation, then re-elected Lincoln, were pro-slavery.


      1. Hello Richie; thanks for writing. Yes, the African slave trade was run by black Africans for centuries before Africans were enslaved to send to the Americas. Slavery has been part of the human story for about as long as there has been a human story, and has not been restricted to black people.
        White slavers did take over a large part of the African slave trade in the 18th century, feeling that black African slavers were not getting them enough people to enslave.
        But no matter who provided the people to enslave, the relevant fact is that the Confederacy was a republic devoted to upholding slavery, the first in the modern world, I believe, and the fact that black Africans may have provided some of the enslaved people to the Confederacy is beside the point of the post, which is that anyone who tells you the Confederacy was not founded to preserve black slavery, or that slavery in the Confederacy was benevolent, is nuts.


  3. thehistoricpresent,

    I want to diplomatically tell you that you are mistaken. At one point, NY had more slaves than freemen – about 75%. That is one reason the city just opened this memorial:

    And you may find this enlightening:

    So it is difficult to argue that one region was simply racist and another enslavers.

    Lately, I have been countering the widespread misperception that slavery was a uniquely southern American phenomena. In fact, it was a global method of providing labor where shortages existed in colonies. Not many Americans are familiar with slavery in the northern US, let alone slavery abroad in places like Brazil, even in African colonies.

    What you won’t hear me argue is that slavery didn’t exist, or that slavery was benign, etc. The main point I want to convey is that American South gets villainized for its role in what was a widespread Constitutionally-legal activity up through the Civil War. Out of the 13 states that seceded, 6 or 7 did not secede until AFTER Lincoln called for the formation of 75 thousand Union troops to invade the South TO RESTORE THE UNION. During the war and following the war, propaganda complimented war strategy in calling for the end of slavery in an attempt to seek a moral high ground in their cause.

    We don’t see controversy when someone flies the Union Jack; however, under that flag, an estimated 10 million slaves were transported in trade. Juxtapose this with the Confederate flag, and I think you’ll see my point.


  4. Hello Jim. People often quote the number of slaves held in northern colonies or states to show that slavery was as common and accepted in the north as the south, but the problem here is that there’s a definite date after which you can’t do that, because the north abolished slavery. Yes, slavery was widespread across the world, and goes back about as far as human history, but in the American colonies and then the U.S., the northern colonies/states made a decision to abandon it that the south simply and clearly did not make. Once the north abolished slavery, they were racists while the south were enslavers.

    The 1800s are riven from the start with controversy over slavery in the U.S.; it was never not a hot-button issue. When the U.S. gained its new western territories in 1849, and the possibility of more slave states than free came up, the northern states really started trying to put legislative brakes on slavery, and the resulting decade of escalating congressional debate and on-the-ground action in places like Missouri and Kansas led to civil war.

    So I’m still unconvinced. You can only talk about slavery being equal north and south in the 18th century, and even so it’s clear that during the post-Revolutionary war years in the north opinion was veering far away from accepting slavery.


  5. Still not convinced? Time doesn’t matter. If you committed murder 20 years ago, are you any less guilty than if you had committed it today? That’s a bad example, I know, because slavery was legal under the Constitution. In fact, slavery was abolished in the South before it was abolished from the Union states.

    And where was slavery first legalized in the US originate? The Massachusettes Bay Colony. Personally, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that one particular region of America is not responsible for all things slavery as the popular culture likes to insinuate.

    Bottom line is that others will disagree with me and some will disagree with you like this person:


  6. Funny how after the Civil war many Northern States posted signs telling blacks to stay out and warned them they would be publicly beaten if they stayed. What flag was it that flew over every slave ship? It was the US flag. What flag flew over the genocide of Native Americans? Hint: It wasn’t a Southern flag.


    1. Well, the slave ships flew British flags, and even if they had flown the U.S. flag that would have been the “southern” flag pre-1861. The point here is not that there was no racism in the north. The point is that revisionists are trying to say the Confederacy of slaveholding southern states was anti-slavery, or that it promoted a healthy and wholesome kind of paternal slavery that helped those who were enslaved. The title isn’t “Don’t be fooled–only the south was racist!” Moving the debate to whether the north was racist is only another tactic of those who want to shift the focus from how plainly and clearly the Confederacy was based on promoting slavery.


  7. One of the central reasons for the establishment of the Republic of Texas was that the Anglo immigrants, primarily from the South and primarily slave owners or supporters of slavery, wanted Mexico to rescind its decree of 1829 which competed the nation’s abolishment of slavery. While the nations of the West, along with may of its existing or former colonies were abolishing slavery, the Southern pro-secssionist “Fire-Eaters” (e.g., Willain Lowndes Yancey of Alabama) were trying their best to expand the South’s slave holdings (their grand plan included invasion and annexation of most all of the Latin American nations of North American and Spains vestigal holdings of its American empire (e.g., Cuba) . This group wanted secession, regardless of any compromises the North would be willing to make. Another fallacy is that the South seceeded because of Linclon’s election; the truth is that the “Fire-Eaters” wanted secession to occur, regardless of who was elected, unless it was Breckinridge (and they hoped that the split in the Democratic party between him and Douglas would make that event highly improbable). In fact, of the contenders for the Republican nomination, Lincoln was the least radical in his views on slavery, i.e., he was far, far away from being an abolitionist. The radicals in the South did nhot want to slave the Union; they were interested in setting up a slave empire.


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