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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13 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:

    http://www.civilwarhome.com/sumterownership.htm

    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. 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.

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