We now begin a four-year celebration of the 150th year of the Civil War. The celebration started a month or so ago when the good people in Charleston, SC celebrated the capture of Ft. Sumter by a traitorous mob. They held a gala ball. Several Southern states also have plans to celebrate what they are touting as the defense of states’ rights against federal aggression.
Not much is ever mentioned in this states’ rights debate about the basic rights at stake. What the Southern states wanted in the long debate that started in about 1835 and raged up until the fall of Ft. Sumter, was for the North to agree to extend slavery into all new territories (which would have meant most of the west and southwest) AND agree to help enforce laws against run-away slaves. In short, the Southern states were attempting to exercise federal authority to impose their peculiar institution on the non-slave holding states. States’ rights is in the eye of the beholder.
Curiously, except for the radical abolitionists, Yankees were content to allow slavery to continue to function in the southern states so long as it did not involve them. Out of sight, out of mind.
Even more curious is the fact that, once they seceded, the Southern states ensured that they would never achieve their goals of getting the Yankee states to help them control their slaves. A logical consequence of Secession was that Northern states became the new Canada. Slaves needed only escape to Ohio or Pennsylvania to get free. (Returning escaped slaves, in accordance with due process, was demanded by the Constitution until the 13th Amendment was adopted.) And certainly the federal government, dominated by anti slavery forces, was not going to surrender new territories to colonization by slave holders. (It is worth asking how long blue collar America would tolerate a flood of escaped slave “immigrants” going to work at lower wages in Yankee factories.) No one ever accused South Carolina crackers of exercising foresight. (Go here for a nice overview of the kind of dumbasses who still run South Carolina. Stupid is as stupid does.
I have made the point here many times that we would be far better off without the likes of South Carolina and Texas. Certainly I think at this point we should allow them to leave the Union. Indeed we should urge them out the door. One important lesson from the Civil War is that when the Southern Congressmen and Senators refused to come back to Washington, Congress passed three of the most progressive, and important, initiatives in our history. All three initiatives had long been supported by the Whig (i.e. Progressive) party, and all had been stalled by Southern Democrats (i.e. The GOOP). Those measures were the Homestead Act, which opened the west to development; the Land Grant College Act, which built our great system of higher education, and the Pacific Railway Act, which built the transcontinental railroad.
We expect no such progressive legislation from the New Congress. Now that the House of Representatives is controlled by a confederacy of dunces, we will hear a lot more about the glories of the lost cause and the importance of states’ rights. All well and good. Let’s just keep in mind that states’ rights do not trump personal rights, and the defense of corporate rights at the expense of individual rights is fascism.