Defending our cause… do’s and don’ts

by Daryl K. Coleman, Commander, Rockwall Cavalry Camp # 2203

A topic of great interest to me is how we, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are to defend our charge and our cause. Let me state up front that I am no expert… I’m just a compatriot with an opinion.

In my 12 years in the SCV, I’ve heard some very good arguments and also some very poor arguments relating to the Second American Revolution, or the War for Southern Independence. Following are some thoughts I have which may help you when you have the opportunity to argue our case, either to someone on the street, or even to someone in the media.

First, never tell someone that the so-called Civil War had nothing to do with the institution of slavery. Why? Because it is not true. The institution of slavery, ugly and wrong as it was, was a factor in the equation. It is mentioned rather prominently in most of the ordinances of secession documents of the states who seceded from the United States. That being said, at the outset is was a rather minor issue, at least with the Lincoln Administration. Evidence for this? Look at the Lincoln quotes from before the start of hostilities and lasting at least through 1862. Lincoln was very clear about this, and you should be also. This leads to the next thought…

On the other hand, when you hear someone say that slavery was the only or paramount issue of the war, this is when you must refuse to concede that point also. Why? Because this is not true, either. There were a number of issues, and slavery was but one of those. In addition, in the early part of the conflict, slavery was not really even a major issue… it only became so later as northern apologists sought to make their war waged upon the southern states appear more palatable to those who were skeptical, especially Great Britain and France. In addition, it should always be remembered that slavery was still legal in a number of northern states, right up until passage of the 13th Amendment.

About the statement “Lincoln freed the slaves.” I heard it in school growing up, my kids still hear it in school (well, one does, the other is now home schooled), and we even hear it on popular TV shows, not to mention in the news media. It simply and demonstrably is not true. Slavery existed under the US flag for 80+ years, until passage of the 13th Amendment, and Lincoln was willing to live with it in order to preserve the Union.

Future installments of Defending Our Cause will follow in future issues.