What Started the Civil War?

What Started the Civil War?

This weekend, while taking a mini-vacation with the family to Stone Mountain in Georgia,  I read on one of the displays there in the Memorial Hall museum that, “the Civil War started when Confederate soldiers fired on federal troops at Fort Sumter.” Now that’s just not a fair statement. It is severely biased and not a little misleading. It disturbed me to see such a misrepresentation of the facts, such an ignoring of the context, surrounding the start of the war between the states (and that at a Confederate memorial park no less). Never mind the utter disappointment there on the whole with regard to enthusiasm or recognition of Southern heritage, but that’s another blog entry, for another time, I reckon.

So why does this statement bother me? Is is that the statement is not technically accurate? No, Southern boys did fire the first shots. Why though? That’s the question not answered, the reason not explained, that yields a whole different perspective than the one a body is likely to walk away with  otherwise after reading the display in question. You see, simply put, Fort Sumter was the property of the sovereign, then independent, state of South Carolina. It had previously been in the hands of the federal government while still in union. Yet, when South Carolina lawfully seceded from the Union, ownership of the property naturally reverted. However, federal troops refused to leave or surrender the property to it’s rightful owners, thereby threatening the peace and safety of the people.

Lincoln’s plan to invade South Carolina, and resupply the fort with loyal troops, was no secret. Nor was it the first attempt of the same. Still, though warned not to try and resupply the fort, Lincoln used it as an opportunity to force the South to draw first blood. You see, that way he could claim we started the war; the same shameful spin and guile perpetuated by the modern state of Georgia in it’s administration of the Confederate memorial park at Stone Mountain today.

Stone Mountain Carving

To put this in terms we can better identify with, imagine a communist nation or coalition of nations invading American soil. What would our government do? Why they would warn them not to invade our borders, nor threaten our peace and safety, explaining that such an act would be deemed an act of war and would be met with hostile resistance. Well, that’s essentially what Confederate troops did at the battle of Fort Sumter. In fact, that is more or less what they did throughout the entirety of the war.

So, what really started the war? The occupation and invasion of a sovereign people, or state, by a now foreign power. More specifically, the aid and support of federal troops in continuing to occupy Ft. Sumter, threatening the sovereignty of the people of South Carolina. That’s what started the war!

So yes, we shot first. You would too if someone was invading your home, property, and privacy!

Then while it is fair to say we fired the first shot, it is not fair to say we started the war; at least not without explaining that we only fired because we were being unlawfully occupied and invaded by armed forces of a now foreign power. We left peacefully, and would have remained so if we had not been provoked through Northern aggression and invasion. THAT is what really started the war.

For Dixie!

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25 Responses to “What Started the Civil War?”

  1. Corey Meyer says:

    You may want to look into the ownership of Ft. Sumter at the time of the attack. S. C. actually turned ownership over to the Federal Government in the 1850’s. So actually, the ft. was owned by the Government…not SC or the fledgling confederacy.

  2. Thanks for the comment Corey Meyer. As for the content of your reply, could you supply a source for that information? Nevertheless, even if that were the case (not saying it isn’t, I’ve just not heard it before), secession would have superceded the same. In as much as the federal government is and was merely the agent of the states in union, and in as much as South Carolina had lawfully seceded from the same, the federal government thereby lost any and all authority, agency, or right to property (much less the housing of troops and arms) formerly delegated to it within the borders, territory, or jurisdiction of the sovereign state of South Carolina.

  3. Mason Dixon says:

    The first statement is easy to disprove. Fort Sumter was built by the federal government on land deeded to it free and clear by act of the South Carolina legislature on December 31, 1836:


    The state of South Carolina had no legal claims to it regardless of its status as a state in the union or a sovereign entity. Your second statement is just as easy to disprove. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress shall have sole authority over federal property such as forts, armories, mints, and also the District of Columbia. Once Sumter became federal property then only Congress could dispose of it. Ownership did not transfer automatically, even had the Southern acts of secession been legal.

  4. Firstly, the Southern acts of secession were legal; that is the crux of the whole. Secondly, when South Carolina seceded all powers delegated to the federal government where withdrawn. Therefore Article I, section 8, no longer applied. It was rendered moot by the fact of secession itself. Besides, please note that authority and ownership are not necessarily the same.

    The fact is when South Carolina withdrew from the union, federal jurisdiction in all matters ceased. The reverting of ownership was only the natural and necessary result thereof. It is simply understood. The failure to peacefully withdraw in recognition of the same, choosing further to resupply and invade, is what started the war.

  5. Btw, please pardon my lack of manners. Welcome to the blog Mason Dixon, and thank you for commenting. It is a pleasure to have you.

  6. AmericaFTW says:

    The south started the damn civil war and killed 600,000 americans, simply because they wanted to keep slavery legal. NEWSFLASH assholes, slavery was tyranny and did the north practice it as much as the south, NO! They refused to live with the election results, and seceded, all you idiots think it was the north, it was the fucking south! They were betraying the very nature of the US, freedom, thats why their were abolotionists, and thats why Lincoln fought the south, to free the people you shit south kept in bondage! It wasn’t Lincoln, Fort Sumter was built by the union, therefore it’s property, if I left my house and my TV, does that make it someone elses’s property! FUCK NO! You people are sick for supporting a rebellion against liberty.

  7. bravhrt79 says:

    @AmericaFTW Well, your beloved Lincoln wanted to ship all the Africans slaves to Haiti, or some other island, and leave them there. And for you info, it wasn’t Confederate ships that brought over the slaves! And it wasn’t bout slavery, and you know it, later it became bout that. And your really angry, come down and God Bless!

  8. The Redneck says:

    Interesting polemic, FTW–you should understand that profanity, while it may have its place, is not a substitute for facts.

    The truth, as Mr. Bravhrt mentioned is that the infamous Triangle Trade was by and large a New England venture–far more than any other nation.

    Moreover, Lincoln made it clear several times that he didn’t care about slavery in the slightest, and even offered to enshrine slavery permanently in the Constitution. The best possible way for the South to keep slavery would have been to return to the union. the Union Congress later added their own support in a resolution making it clear that they were NOT fighting to end slavery.

    By the way, when you’re supporting terrorists, you may want to ease up on calling other people ‘sick’.

  9. TexasLeads says:

    Research on what started the civil war is scarce compared to how it ended. I find the Morrill Tariff to be highly significant in that it threatened most all southerners. Taxation without representation is what really started the civil war. Not much different than what started independence from England, is it? As an economic thinker the questions I often wonder are: 1) Why didn’t the north boycott slave grown cotton? 2) Why is it that the north profited from slave trading (slave transporting ships were all owned by northerners) but doesn’t want to take responsibility for that? 3) If the northerners were so opposed to slavery, why not buy them off. If this happened the slave owners would have profited and slavery could have peacefully dissolved.
    I don’t think anyone today advocates slavery but then it was a way of life that had existed for thousands of years. ending it by killing over 600K people was one of the worst ways to accomplish a noble goal.

  10. Kevin Sykes says:

    I agree with Corey, you should try doing some research first. You may have gotten your point of view from some hicks down South who still believe that the CSA will rise, but it won’t. Anderson was sent to Fort Sumpter to wait for supplies issued by Lincoln. He was a soldier, and soldiers don’t back down and run away. Beauregard told Anderson he would open fire if Anderson would not leave by morning. Would you run away and abandon what you took an oath to do, defend your nation? Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address didn’t even mention a congratulations on the North winning the war, and he showed immense respect for the South. He let them keep their swords and respected that they fought for their own nation. All-in-all, do some research before you blame the North. Lincoln was the one who wanted everyone together and tried everything to prevent the war, but the South didn’t care.

  11. James Lane says:

    The underlying premise of this piece is that the secession of South Carolina and the rest of the southern States to form the Confederacy was legal. That premise is simply false. There is no mention of the a word remotely synonymous with “secession” in the Constitution of the United States let alone a mention of the word itself. The only mechanism I can see in the Constitution that would permit secession would be for the States to have held an Article V convention of the States and through that vote to dissolve the United States or permit secession. This the Confederacy did not do. Instead, it seceded upon Lincoln’s election without legal authority and then fired upon Fort Sumter (which as established by other comments was undoubtedly federal territory) to spark the war. I’m sorry, but those are simply historical facts.

  12. CHDavis says:

    Very well spoken, TexasLeads, The Redneck, and bravhrt79. In the midst of the profusion of detracting statements by certain Constitutionally inept individuals that are unsupported by observable and measurable historical facts it is important to remember that the cause of the South was indeed a just one. In the paraphrased words of President Davis, it was the culmination of staunch sectional hostility that prompted the South to secede. Davis proclaimed the slavery was merely an “incident”, and “in no wise a cause of the war”. The South seceded in order to sustain the doctrine of States’ Rights which asserts that the right of a State to govern itself is reserved solely to that State, and that inherit right to self-government can not be infringed upon by the federal government. In the words of President Zachary Taylor’s son, Confederate General Richard Taylor, the Confederacy fought for “the privilege of exercising some influence in their own government”. And General Lee went on to maintain that the South was the true defender of Constitutional self-government when he proclaimed to his troops that they find themselves defenders of “the right of self-government, Liberty, and peace”. According to the testimony of the candid soldiers and officers of the CSA, the Southern armies fought to sustain the innate American principles of self-government, Constitutional purity, and republicanism. God Bless y’all! And Deo Vindice [><]

  13. RLM says:

    Ya know it really sad that this war ever happened, over 600,000 people died! But the sad thing about it is that there are Morons out there like FTW that really don’t have a clue as to what this war was about!!

  14. Jacob says:

    These comments are interesting into the degree to which each individual has been indoctrinated by the prevailing media and education system. Consult the theory of “Occams Razor” which states the most simple answer is usually correct. I propose that like most wars it was about money and power. The Federal Govt wanted more money from the South and to maintain and increase its power. The South wanted to keep its money and its right to self govern. Everything else is just conversation.

  15. scott hill says:

    Yes I agree . Like you said “Follow the money ” . I am finding more and more that that is true of 95% of things not just lies about the War Between the States.
    . And not only for the cause of the war but also the reasons we are being lied to about the cause of the war today .
    People want to keep the cash following so they lie about the past .
    Still drives me insane to think of that joke film they play now at Gettysburg .
    I remember when I went back in the 80s that there was a history of the park that said when the park was formed people were told not to take a side just give the details of the battle .
    Boy how times have changed . Ca Chinge go the cash registers . 🙂

  16. scott hill says:

    The same is true of other things . Follow the money .I remember some years ago some plaques were changed at Pearl Harbor at the Arizona memorial .
    There were a lot of Japanese visitors so they had a plaque that explained how the Japanese felt they had to attack due to how america was treating them with boycotts etc.
    That is fine . But heaven forbid the South should get a fair shake .
    Guess if more people from a certain group had been killed at PH that plaque would of never of gone up . 🙂

  17. scott hill says:

    Just started reading here . Will be back often . Need to know there are others out there that feel the way I do and to get the “other side ” the people with a northern bias leave out .
    Like an article I saw by Cockie Roberts a few months ago . She talked about some of the early First Wives of the Presidents .
    She mentioned how one of them was an abolitionist etc. etc. Then she goes on to talk about Martha Washington and doesn’t say a word about her owning slaves .
    Drives me nuts .
    The “Whole Truth ” died a long time ago .
    Never do you hear the “other ” side of lin conman , how he wanted to ship the slaves somewhere else .
    Wow guess we are out of time , anything that makes the South look good is left out . 🙁

  18. Pitchforkpat says:


    Mr. James Lane – have a read, sir, before you go all cattywampus about things of which you know little other than that taught in your 8th grade chapter on The War of Northern Aggression.

    Greetings, Confederate American, from the Alabama part of Pennsylvania!

  19. Jean says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m from the Stone Mountain area and this has bothered me too. There is way too much PC today.

  20. WrongInformation says:

    This seems like just another blog to give more people the WRONG information. It’s a shame how lies spread quicker than the truth. Keep the rebel flag up and your guns loaded, we are going to need them soon.

  21. Confederate Angela says:

    The slavery issue came about as a way to cripple the south because up to that point the north wasn’t winning. Here’s proof that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery…..In Lincoln’s own words.

    Quoting from a letter written by Lincoln and dated August 22, 1862….

    “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

    What it boils down to is that Lincoln couldn’t have cared less about freeing slaves until he saw it as a way to win the war by crippling the South. And even then he only cared about freeing slaves in the Southern states that were rebelling.

    All he wanted was to have the South under Union rule again and he didn’t care how he went about it or how many people died. It was all about power and money. The South had money and when they seceded from the Union their money went with them. To hold onto power and control (I believe Lincoln called it “national authority”) as well as the South’s money (taxes, spending it in the North, and whatever other ways the North would get money from the South), the Union invaded the Confederate States of America in order to force the South to rejoin or stay part of the Federal Union. They came onto Confederate land, burning people’s homes, raping, murdering, stealing everything they could get their hands on that might be of value, etc etc etc.

    The Civil War was well underway (about halfway through actually) before the Emancipation Proclamation ever came into being….and the only slaves it freed were those in the rebellion states. No slaves in the Union were freed by it. No slaves in bordering non-rebellious states were freed by it. Lincoln himself owned slaves. So with all that proof how can anybody be so gullible as to continue believing that the Civil War was about slavery…or that it started because of slavery. Lincoln/the Federal Government/the Union made it about slavery halfway through the War (for the purpose of crippling the South) but that’s not what started the war no matter what they teach in schools.

    I love the answer one rebel soldier gave (probably many more than just the one because the answer is so matter-of-fact, direct, and honest) when the Union asked “What are you fighting for?” or “Why are you fighting?”. The answer was simply “Because you’re down here”.

    Confederate States of America

  22. david7134 says:

    The war had nothing at all to do with slavery. The issue with the North over slavery was its extension to the territories, not abolition. Abolition was advocated by a small number of people on both sides. Certainly states defined there departure from the Union on the basis of slavery, but then we do the same now as we defined the war with Iraq as associated with WMD’s, which everyone knew was not true. Instead, the breakdown that led to separation was the dissolution of the Democratic party and the effort by Lincoln for a centralized government that was all powerful. Consider this, the north claims they were warring with the slavery holding South to stop slavery, but kept the slavery economy on their side and never made a serious effort at eliminating it (slavery is an economic system and not specific abuse of a defined race). Also, the South was much more integrated and race friendly than the North. Look up Melrose plantation, a multi-million dollar business that was own by blacks, this could not occur in the North due to the Black Laws. Also, note that blacks owned slaves (23% of free blacks owned slaves compared to 1% of whites). The South was forced to fire the first shot, the harbor of Charleston was being invaded by 3 fleets, not ships.

  23. Peter says:

    Buchanan made an agreement not to fortify any forts while session was being looked at by the federal government when Anderson transferred his command from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter violating the agreement. This was the cause of the south taking action. Then 3 days later the north initiated their blockade of the south, which is an act of war.

  24. Pennsyltucky Russian says:

    Not saying anything about the property right for Ft. Sumter, would like to ask a related, but more general question. In multiple popular sources I read about the Confederacy’s offer to pay for the seized Federal property. However, I never found a quality reference to support this claim. In fact, I would be quite happy to find such a reference, but failed so far. Can anyone help? Thank you.

  25. Paul von Pensacola says:

    Justice not legalism is the prevailing question . Even today in the most unjust times, .
    Is it legal to separate , secede from what? The problem was created in the beginning . Virginia did not really approve of this compact of laws. But they conceived the thing ironically and barely had majority of votes not 3/5 to ratify. Not till 13 amendments, misnamed a bill of rights, wnich were perfections and not law nor part of the Constitution , which had already been ratified ( except sovereign Vermont , who refused until further assurances of the 10 amendments) since it was conceived by VIrginians again to prevent counter revolution.

    The problem was the irreconcilability of North and South., or Old and New Testament . The question is law. In OLd Testament law was absolute and man hopelessly condemned by it and or justified.

    The New Testament revolutionized law; it was made for man and sovereignty belonged to man not government or today’s Sanhedrin of the Supreme Court. There is no law that frees except God’s law. Law is allays used by the lawless to oppress and enslave.

    The question of lawfulness was that man is indeed not subject to law if he is sovereign and only the SUpreme law maker , God , Most High to whom he is ultimately responsible (grace).. This is the difference that made war inevitable. Ultimately, the north , Federals knew their law was empowered through military,physical supremacy not inspiration and spiritual convictions. Which still divides and alienates to this day.

    Briefly, the Confederacy was not legal nor secession . Laws are made for the lawless , most Southerners lived by a code of life .or politically by the original Articles of Confederation (State Sovereignty).

    But secession was just and righteous . These are the irreconcilable differences . deo vindici

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