Wayne Olson of Moscow wants to rewrite history. He wants us to believe that the Civil War was all about states’ rights, and not about the enslavement of Africans. (Letter, Lewiston Tribune, July 9 , 2019)

Granted:

- There were competing understandings of liberty and rights;

- Northern industry was subsidized by tariffs on Southern harvests;

- New western states could not be slave states, so Congress would increasingly vote against the slave states’ interests — an existential threat.

Nevertheless, the Causa Bella? Slavery. (From the website, Teaching American History. Document: “Cornerstone” Speech by Vice President of the Confederate States of America (CSA) Alexander Stephens, March 21, 1861. Public domain, from the National Archives.)

Slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederate constitution. “This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” (Stephens)

Stephens said that most of those who signed the old constitution believed that enslaving Africans violated the laws of nature, and was wrong in principle; wrong socially, morally, and politically; that it was evil.

“This was an error.” (Stephens)

That CSA was “founded upon exactly the opposite idea;” the cornerstone of it’s foundation rests upon “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man;” that his “natural and normal condition” is slavery.

In the history of the whole world, the CSA was the first government founded upon “this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” (Stephens)

The seven states passed resolutions emphasizing the centrality of slavery to the Southern way of life. Chattel slavery would have been locked into their constitution. How many underground railroads would be operating today? If we found a slave-snatcher operating in our state, could we shoot him/her?

We all pledge allegiance to liberty and justice for all. Some of us mean it.

Wiley Hollingsworth

Pullman

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