The Confederate war effort: “…moved to a common end, but by different… and inconsistent reasons”

Posted on July 16, 2015 by


Another break from the transcriptions, just for a little while… but still related.

I recently came across (again) a quote I thought rather telling. It actually came from another transcription I completed for this blog, with a newspaper article focused on a discussion Lincoln had with representatives from the border states… and, as it so happens, on the topic of colonization.

This is a quote from the response from the representatives to Abraham Lincoln:

The rebellion derives its strength from the union of all classes in the insurgent States; and while that union lasts the war will never end until they are utterly exhausted. We know that at the inception of these troubles Southern society was divided, and that a large portion, perhaps a majority, were opposed to Secession. Now the great mass of Southern people are united. To discover why they are so we must glance at Southern society, and notice the classes into which it has been divided, and which still distinguish it. They are in arms, but not for the same objects; they are moved to a common end, but by different and even inconsistent reasons.

This, I believe, gives a nod to the suggestion that the Confederacy was filled with a rather wide range of interests. Was slavery one of those? Of course it was. This said, however, consider the Southerners who had participated in the activities of the American Colonization Society. With what I’ve transcribed so far, we’ve seen some rather strong statements against slavery.

On July 8, the title of my post was “That slavery is an evil no one can deny”.

On July 9… “we deprecate the horrors of slavery

On July 11… “To prepare the way of the gradual emancipation and colonization of our slaves.”

And then, last night… (an I use the full quote rather than just the post title) “Although we were originally guiltless of her wrongs, yet by refusing to redress them, when we have the power, we become accomplices in the crime.”

I fully understand that this is from a document that is forty years prior to the secession crisis, but did everyone… more importantly, every Southerner… who signed their name to these statements, as a member of the American Colonization Society, not believe what they signed on to? I can’t imagine that at all to be the case.

Furthermore, yes, a good number of the people who had signed on had died by the time of the secession crisis, yet, there were still several who were still around… Bishop Meade being one of them. I’ll not go into the particulars on him just yet, as I’ve got quite a bit more to discuss about him in a focused post.

The question I leave with you is, how many, despite their belief in those statements shown above (and more), did participate as members, in some capacity or another, of the Confederacy?

Did they all flip on their opinion?

Understand, when I know well the case of Charles James Faulkner, I understand that some may well have done so (though I haven’t seen Faulkner’s name affixed to a branch of the ACS). He spoke strongly against slavery in 1832, but, some 20+ years later, began singing quite another tune. That isn’t lost on me. What I do suggest is that there were those who did not “flip” on the issue, and, feeling an eminent crisis trumped (at least for the time) a great evil they wished to be removed, opted for supporting the Confederacy. As to whether they were hopeful they could later return to the issue… I haven’t yet seen anything that says, one way or the other.

I said it a couple of weeks back, and I’ll ask it again… who among us has witnessed an event whereby an armed body of the US military was to be sent to your backyard, and not on a simple military operation… to suppress people in your own community… and undermine a majority ruling of people (and, yes, I know that gets complicated as well)? Can you possibly put yourself in those shoes and fully grasp the urgency of the situation as they saw it?

Do you see, now, how and why I’m fascinated with this Society of the ACS, and what I think it might suggest?

As we see people, particularly on wide ends of the pendulum swing, make their arguments, is a consideration of other dynamics of those who followed the Confederate flag not worthy of inclusion in the discussion?

Is it that people simply don’t know… or is it that people prefer not to complicate a fight that is otherwise made easy by oversimplification and generalizations?

More transcriptions to come.

Note: Please, please, please… if you have the time, take advantage of the hyperlinks. After all, they serve as support to my hypothesis.