Tom Jackson
Apr 15, 2011

The Civil War began 150 years ago, on Tuesday.

The Sandusky Register carried articles on the war's beginning in its April 15, 1861, issue. The "News by Telegraph" section inside the newspaper, carrying dispatches from around the country, had a series of articles on the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter and the responses to it. In the style of the time, the paper has a series of headlines. The one on top says UNPROVOKED WAR!

The New York Times has a wonderful new blog, Disunion, that's providing a day-by-day account of the events of 150 years ago. It's addictive.

We're going to have many articles in this paper on the Civil War and Erie County's connection to it. Two of them will run Sunday.

My home state, Oklahoma, didn't play a big role in the Civil War. It wasn't a state then, it was Indian Territory, but it nonetheless was a Civil War battleground, too. The biggest battle in Oklahoma, Honey Springs, featured white soldiers, American Indian warriors and black soldiers. 

The battle was an interesting moment in black history. It was possibly the first Civil War battle in which black troops played a major role.

In fact, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry won the battle, driving back a Confederate charge. The  Union commander, Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, wrote, "Their coolness and bravery I have never seen surpassed; they were in the hottest of the fight, and opposed to Texas troops twice their number, whom they completely routed."




Well tom this area is huge in Civil War history, if memory serves the most Union soilders were from Ohio (33% ?)                Ohio's contribution in leadership is large also.  

Captain Gutz

Ohio's contribution to Union leadership is HUGE! The only major player on the Union side not from Ohio was Lincoln, but I take solace from the fact that McClellan was not from Ohio.

brutus smith

 The south didn't learn their lesson the 1st time.


I wish the south would have won! The civil war wasn"t about slavery as i once believed. Its about as equivalent as going to a temporary service for a job! or why everything is made in china today? Just think how free america might be today.

Captain Gutz


So you are saying that the Civil War would have happened even if slavery never existed?


Snoozer is right. The Civil War wasn't about slavery. It was about states' rights.

President Lincoln could have issued an Emancipation Proclamation at any time, including PRIOR to the War. He didn't do it until it was deemed a potential game-changer by freeing slaves (which he had no authority to do at the time) in the hopes they'd rise up and fight on the side of the Union and give the North some much-needed support from behind enemy lines.

The point, of course, isn't that there's nothing wrong with slavery. I can't think of anything RIGHT about slavery. But the pretense that War was declared over slavery is incorrect, and that error continues to be perpetuated in many history classes. It was fought over secession and whether or not states admitted to the Union could later LEAVE the Union. Lincoln used force to promote his own views that they could not.

History classes also very rarely touch on the fact that black men and women weren't typically viewed as equal in the North, either. They just weren't OFFICIALLY enslaved. The idea that persons of color (black, Native American, Chinese, etc.) were equals wasn't anywhere NEAR settled by the Civil War!

Added note: To the best of my knowledge, only Texas and Arizona were admitted to the US with the caveat that they be able to secede without penalty should they choose that option. In the case of Arizona, residents of the Territory tried to put secession into the proposed State Constitution. The federal government refused to accept it, so Arizona removed that point and was admitted as a state. One of the first acts of the new State Legislature in Arizona was to amend the State Constitution to put the secession clause back in.

6079 Smith W

  A couple points:

 The North abused the Irish and German immigrants, misusing them for cheap labor; the South had the Negro.   If Gen. Jackson had been allowed by Gen. Lee to pursue the fleeing Federal troops back into DC after the First Battle of Manassas, the War Between the States would more than likely had a quick end.   Study the Reconstruction; the North continued to discriminate against blacks while imposing draconian revenge on the South.   Funny, there’s a social phenomena occurring called the Reverse Migration. Educated blacks are increasingly finding fewer job opportunities in the North and are moving to the South for a better life.   In the 2010 census, Atlanta became #2 in the number of black inhabitants, pushing Chicago to #3.




brutus smith

 More revisionist history. If we had done this we coulda, woulda, shoulda .......... ROFLMAO!

6079 Smith W


“There was no historical precedent for a society’s basic institutions being overturned by ballot; democracy possessed very real limits. Neither George III nor Jefferson Davis were deposed in America by elections or legal writ, but by war.” -   T. R. Fehrenbach

Funny, during Reconstruction the North continued to refuse blacks the right to vote but required that it be given in the South.          


What's "revisionist" here? Do you suggest the Germans, Irish, Chinese, etc. WEREN'T discriminated against by the north? Or are you claiming that the southern states DIDN'T secede? Or maybe that Lincoln had no problem with their secession?

I don't see anything "revisionist." There are just more FACTS discussed here than are typically talked about in the average American History class.

brutus smith

 sam a, the Irish, Polish and Chinese were exploited and  discrinated against by business people, not just by the "north".


The American Civil War (1861–1865), also less commonly known as the War Between the States (among other names), was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy". Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought for its independence from the United States. The U.S. federal government was supported by twenty mostly-Northern free states in which slavery already had been abolished, and by five slave states that became known as the border states. These twenty-five states, referred to as the Union, had a much larger base of population and industry than the South. After four years of bloody, devastating warfare (mostly within the Southern states), the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. The restoration of the Union, and the Reconstruction Era that followed, dealt with issues that remained unresolved for generations.

brutus smith

 sam a, What was the state's rights issue? Let me think......... Oh yeah, slavery! Good grief, take some comprehension classes.



Apr 16, 2011
10:01 AM

brutus smith says

 More revisionist history. If we had done this we coulda, woulda, shoulda .......... ROFLMAO




Nope. The states' rights issue was over SECESSION. I grant you that the southern states seceded over the issue of slavery, but the war was actually fought over whether or not a state (or states) could leave the union. There was a point prior to the war, in fact, where there was very nearly an agreement that slave states could STAY slave states. Secession effectively ended that, and it became an all or nothing proposition. Up until that time, there hadn't been any shots fired. Debate? Yes. War? Nope.

brutus smith

 sam a, is that little voice in your head telling you that? Since 99.9% of history says differently, you confederate sympathizers are always trying to come up with something different.

Captain Gutz


While it is arguable that the war was fought because the slave states seceded, there would have been no secession without the peculiar institution. While there were slave states that did not secede, there were no free states that did.

Indeed, a new state was carved out of a slave state during the war. That new state was formed by free men who held no slaves and had no desire to do so.

So you are saying that the Civil War would have happened even if slavery never existed? There is no precedent for any state attempting to secede for any other reason. (Maybe Utah?)


6079 Smith W
ol' bs defending a Repub – OMG!!!   The North only won the war because those evil businessmen exploited the Irish and Germans in their Northern factories in order to produce armaments for Lincoln’s War.   The fascist Lincoln also conscripted poor people as well as the Germans and Irish immigrants to be cannon fodder for his war, while the wealthy could buy their way out.   

Guess ya gotta run roughshod over the Constitution in order to save the nation huh?    


Again sMITH your education has failed you.         All countries, All cultures, & All races have been dominated by others. History not me verifies this.   Stop waving flags & other symbols you non-vet.   Better still move to Texazz like you said  you were going to.                                                      pdb

BW1's picture

Sam, you're only partially correct.  Secession was NOT over slavery.  It was over a states' rights (and not rights to slavery Brutus) to economic and other types of souvereignty.  The Northern states, by virtue of their higher population density, dominated the House of Representatives, which is the only part of the government with the power to initiate tax or spending bills.  They had used this to set national economic policy to favor their own industrializing economies with exhorbitant protective tariffs - 40%, which were wrecking the economy of the South. These tariffs provided most of the federal government's funding (which was a large part of Lincoln's motivation for not letting then secede.)

On February 3, 1865, U.S.Secretary of State Seward, Confederate Vice President Stephens and other representatives held a secret peace conference at Hampton Roads, VA.  The Union representatives offered readmission to the Union and the preservation of slavery.  The Confederate representatives countered that they could not rejoin the union without a reduction of the tariff to 10%.  The Union representatives refused - it was on that issue that they failed to reach agreement.

Lincoln was a tyrant who suspended most of the Bill of Rights, imprisoning and killing people for PROTESTING against the draft (Free Speech, anyone? How's that sit with your hippy sensibilities, Brutus?) In addition, he ignored the Constitution's Separation of Powers, effectively committing a coup de tat by threatening to imprison the Supreme Court if they published their ruling against him on the suspension of habeas corpus.  He changed the United States from a voluntary union of states into an empire held together by force.

By the way, Sam, Montana's admission agreement to the Union stipulated the right to secede, and spelled out what would constitute grounds for it.

brutus smith

 You know bw1 and sam a, why is it I can only find "proof" of your revisionist history only on right wingnut BLOGS? No true historian can verify what you say, only what's bouncing around the right wingnut echo chamber.

Marcus M

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained lengthy or off-topic excerpts from other websites. Discussion Guidelines


"We hold these truths to be self evident that ALL men are created equal........"               In the preamble it didn't say   -     unless you are non-white.              Think on that .          THAT goes counter to the constitution.              Those southerners derserved what we Northern people gave them.

6079 Smith W
Know this: Even Lincoln believed that the Negro was inferior and did not consider them equal to whites.   A major point is that the South reacted irrationally; they feared the election of Lincoln and what it could entail.   If the Southern states would not have seceded and began the war, the odds are that Lincoln would have been a politically mediocre president who would have been incapable of legislating his abolitionist philosophy.  

Sadly, in the history of the world, the U.S. is the only country that eliminated the institution of slavery through war. 

 More-than-likely slavery would have eventually been eliminated through the increased use of mechanization.

brutus smith

 Oh, OK Darth.

BW1's picture

Brutus, your research skills are sorely deficient:

Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Ohio, for speaking out in criticism of Lincoln and the war, was arrested, subjected to a military tribunal (shades of Bush, Brutus?) and deported.

The Supreme Court ruling that was not published under Lincoln's threat to Chief Justice Roger Taney was ex parte Merryman - you can look it up in any index of SCOTUS cases.
The ruling that retroactively after the war ruled Lincoln's orders violated the Constitution was ex parte Milligan.  Again, Brutus, it's in the court archives.

Regarding the peace conference, there are plenty of references, including in the Lincoln archive of the ILLINOIS (you know, the state that gave us Obama?) State historical Library.

Captain Gutz, slavery was not the primary issue, and Lincoln made assurances he would not seek to force its end, prior to the war.  The issue was, as it always is, money and economics.
The Southern states retained slavery because it was essential to their pre-industrial agrarian economy.  Strong abolitionism in the North had long been limited to fringe religious groups,
but it gained support as the industrial revolution took hold and transformed the economy to one which had no role for slavery.  Until that point, while Northerners held no slaves personally,
they were heavily invested in the slave trade.

The federal government had enacted economic policies that favored the Northern industrial economy, and was bleeding the South with taxes. The South was heavily depedent on foreign trade to
parlay their cotton and other agricultural products for the good manufactured by Europe, and the 40% tariff was strangling them.  As Marcus points out, Lincoln's primary aim was reversing secession.
Why?  FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!  It was about maintaining centralized federal power, which would never work if states could walk away, especially states that were largely funding the federal government.

Lincoln's prosecution of the war was no more about the slaves than Bush's wars were about the poor oppressed Iraqi's, or Obama's war is about the poor oppressed Libyans.


BW1, you dip, of course it was about money. Slavery was far and away the biggest money issue and most people can't even think of anything else. Slavery permits making a lot of money by treating fellow human beings as animals, and the South's entire socio-economic structure was at stake.

Brutus is right and SamAdams is full of it. The states' rights issue was slavery. Euphamization, code words and changing the subject are all techniques for defending the indefensible. Slavery was difficult to defend on moral grounds, so the folks who liked slavery pretended it was all about states' rights, hypocritically pretending to defend a moral priciple, but when they said "states' rights," everyone knew they were talking about slavery.

It didn't end with the Civil War. The Dixiecrats, splintering from the Dems in 1948, talked about states' rights but everyone knew the right they wanted to preserve was the right to subordinate minorities. It was about preserving segregation.

In this case the rest of the Democrats won and the Dixiecrats soon dissolved.

Unfortunately, eager for working-class votes, Southern Republicans picked up the states' rights mantle and today the GOP has positioned itself as the defender of states' rights, i.e. the right to protect the wealthy powerful elite on the backs of the poor and powerless through backward social, environmental and economic policies.

Greedy selfish people don't like a strong federal government because they think it's easier to have their way with state and local governments.

This is less true with increasing wealth concentration -- buying even national elections is now completely affordable, and perfectly legal, now the the corrupt Supreme Court has legalized practically limitless corporate payoffs disguised as "campaign contributions."

BW1's picture

It feels good to say it was about slavery, but Lincoln himself is on record saying it was not.  Slavery was a good bit to inflame the masses, but it wasn't the real economic issue.  Without the onerous federal tariffs, slavery would have fizzled out on its own, because the South would be able to afford all the new ways of mechanizing farming. 

Left to itself, slavery would have ended in another 10 years at the most, and Lincoln was smart enough to know that, and politically wise enough to know it was the preferable route.   The war was about making the states subordinate to the federal government in every way. 

Slavery continued in other countries long after the Civil War was over.  Why didn't the USA go to war to end it in those places?  It would have been no different.  If Lincoln had let the Confederacy go its own way, he would have effectively ended slavery in the United States.  It would only exist in foreign countries, as it did after the war.  It was about getting back the cash cow that funded the federal government

Money  is nothing but a marker for power.  In the end, it's always power.

brutus smith

 bw, this isn't a right wingnut blog where you repeat a lie enough and it morphs into the truth.


It is usually pretty easy to understand why the far right makes up things and practices their revisionist history, but I am still struggling to fully understand this  renewed readoptive revisionism about the reasons for the Civil War.  Oh I understand why southerners want to protect their honor, so they parse their words carefully, and try to make it sound less disgusting, but now we have a widespread movement spreading this crap around.

Say whatever you want wingnuts, but the southern states seceded to protect their "rights" to own people.  From the Mississippi declaration of secession:

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin."

The confederacy formed, and seceded over the right to own people. ..Period...





Exactly Buckeye!           Another reason I  F with people displaying a rebel flag.    They deserved the @ss whipping handed   2them.